What Is the State Tree of West Virginia? How Was It Decided?
All states have a state tree, among numerous other symbols. Hawaii only has five symbols, while West Virginia has 26! The state tree of West Virginia is the sugar maple, prized for its long lifespan and sugary sap. Why did West Virginia choose this tree, and how was it chosen? Let’s check out the answers to those as well as some of the Mountain State’s other symbols.
About the Sugar Maple
Sometimes called the rock maple or hard maple, the sugar maple is one of the more economically important hardwoods in West Virginia. Growing between 90–120 feet tall and with a lifespan of 300–400 years, these trees provide a sugary sap.
The sap can be boiled to produce maple syrup or processed further to yield maple sugar. It takes 34 gallons of sugar maple sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup, or up to 8 pounds of maple sugar. Each tree can produce 2–3 pounds of maple sugar per year, and they are tapped in the fall.
The tree produces a “winged” fruit commonly called helicopters, and the wood has a number of commercial uses. Sugar maple wood can be used to craft bowling pins, baseball bats, and tool handles. Strangely, sugar maples rarely produce flowers until they’re over 22 years old.
How Was the Sugar Maple Adopted as the State Tree?
The sugar maple was officially adopted as the West Virginia state flower on March 7th, 1949 by the state legislature. The legislature chose the tree based on a vote by public schools and civic organizations.
It’s not hard to see why the sugar maple was chosen. It’s economically valuable to farmers across the state, providing maple sugar and syrup to people across the nation. The tree’s fruit and bright leaves attract wildlife that loves the tree’s sugary sap, too. The tree is widespread across the Mountain State and hardwood forests across the eastern US.
However, the sugar maple is also found in other areas in the US. Wisconsin actually chose it as their state tree in 1893, way before West Virginia. New York also chose the sugar maple as their state tree before that in an 1887 vote by schoolchildren.
Those aren’t the only states with the sugar maple as a state tree, though. Vermont, the number one producer of maple syrup in the US, chose the sugar maple as their official state tree in 1949. The state had a fierce rivalry with New York over maple sugar and syrup production, with Vermont coming out on top as the winner.
What Are Some Other West Virginia State Symbols?
As we mentioned, West Virginia has no fewer than 26 state symbols. While some of them get quite silly, many are culturally and historically important symbols. Let’s check out some of West Virginia’s other state symbols.
West Virginia State Symbols:
|State Animal:||Black bear|
|State Fish:||Brook trout|
|State Fruit:||Golden Delicious apple|
|State Butterfly:||Monarch butterfly|
|State Colors:||Old gold & blue|
West Virginia is one of the oldest states and has a rugged landscape and rich history. The state chose the sugar maple as their state tree, joining a handful of other states on the east coast. The sugar maple produces valuable syrup and maple sugar, so it’s no wonder all those states are infatuated with it.
Featured Image Credit: Mircea Costina, Shutterstock