Arbor Day

In Princeton, we usually combine our Arbor Day celebration with Communiversity, the outdoor festival which generally falls each year on the last Sunday in April. This year, Communiversity took place on Sunday, April 30, and members of the Shade Tree Commission handed out saplings of the kousa dogwood, blackgum, and eastern white pine.

If you received a sapling, 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.