Arbor Day and Communiversity

In Princeton, the Shade Tree Commission participates each spring in both Arbor Day and Communiversity, the outdoor festival which generally falls each year on the last Sunday in April. 

This year, on Arbor Day, April 27, every third grade student in Princeton was given a spruce seedling to take home to plant.

In addition, Mayor Liz Lempert and members of the STC and the public were present on Arbor Day for the planting of a Princeton Elm at Monument Hall (corner of Stockton Street and Route 206 North) to celebrate both Arbor Day and the service of former long-time municipal council member and STC liaison Bernie Miller, who retired at the end of 2017. The tree, which was planted near the Einstein statue on Monument Drive, was dedicated to Bernie with a proclamation read by Mayor Lempert. 

At Communiversity, which took place this year on Sunday, April 29, the STC handed out at its booth 750 seedlings free of charge. This year the seedlings--which were provided by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Forest Service--included 3 evergreen species (Norway Spruce, Pitch-loblolly hybrid, and White Pine) and 5 deciduous species (Chestnut Oak, Willow Oak, Red Maple, Kousa Dogwood, and Flowering Dogwood). Each visitor to the booth was permitted to take home up to 5 trees, and all the seedlings were distributed by 3:30! Many visitors to the booth remarked that they had lost so many trees due to the powerful winter storms endured by Princeton this year, and that they were eager to begin replacing them. The free seedlings were a welcome gift.

Those needing guidance in planting their new seedlings will find detailed planting instructions at:

In addition, the following website presents all the trees raised by the Forest Service. This document includes the 8 species that were distributed at Communiversity and offers a good summary of the key attributes of many tree species:

Shade Tree Commission members were also on hand to provide information about the emerald ash borer, mulch volcanoes, and many other topics. We look forward to greeting you at our booth again in 2019!


If you received a seedling at Communiversity in 2017, here is some information about your tree:

Kousa Dogwood

Cornus kousa

The kousa dogwood is a small, deciduous flowering tree that can reach 15-25 feet.  It is native to East Asia but has been widely cultivated in the United States.

Kousa dogwoods bloom in late spring showing “flowers” characterized by four star-like white bracts that surround a cluster of yellowish-green true flowers.  

Flowers are followed by berry-like fruits that stay on the tree into the fall and are enjoyed by the birds. Oval, pointed leaves are dark green, usually turning shades of reddish-purple to scarlet in autumn. Mature trees have tan and gray bark that resembles a jigsaw puzzle.

The tree prefers average moisture but is somewhat drought-resistant.


Nyssa sylvatica

The blackgum is a relatively slow growing, medium-tall tree with a straight trunk and branches extending in straight angles. This native tree is well known for its beautiful fall foliage displaying hues of yellow, orange, bright red, and purple on the same tree.

The small greenish flowers on the blackgum appear in the spring and are a favorite of honeybees. Flowers give way to oval fruits with a dark blue color when mature. The fruits are edible but quite sour.

The tree has elliptically shaped leaves that are dark green above and paler green below. The bark of the blackgum is reddish brown and scaly.

The tree prefers a moist location. Given access to water, it is easy to grow.

Eastern White Pine

Pinus strobus

The Eastern white pine is a fast-growing evergreen tree that keeps its foliage year-round.  The tree is native to the Eastern part of the United States. When young, the white pine has the shape of a Christmas tree, but older trees usually have no branches at the bottom. They reach heights of 50 to 80 feet and can last 200–250 years. Some live over 400 years.

The tree has flexible long needles that grow in bundles of 5 and have a bluish-green color.  The cones of a white ash are slender and have rounded scales with a slight tip. The trunk of the white pine is used for telephone poles.

The tree likes well-drained dry soil, transplants easily, and is most comfortable in a sunny spot.