The B1G List: Ranking the State Trees of the Big Ten

By Johnny Ginter on June 17, 2013 at 4:00p
61 Comments
Trees, trees, the beautiful fruit

Trees.

There's pretty much no such thing as a douchebag tree. One of the only exceptions to this is the racist tree, but other than that jerk, in pretty much every tree is a cool cat of the plant world. They provide shade, occasionally delicious red fruit (including my favorite, Red Delicious apples), and when they're cut down they provide a convenient morality tale for children that doubles as a metaphor for their smug parents.

So I love trees. I'm the selfish kind of environmentalist, the kind that wants to protect trees and forests and the environment mainly so that I and my future children and my children's children will have a nice quiet place to sit and think about the best place to bury incriminating evidence. Trees help provide that, along with nooks and crannies for raccoons and other potentially rabid animals to hide in.

Also trees are great at providing allergens that make my life a living hell from May through August, and are straight up crawling with ants that cover you every time you try and sit underneath one.

Woah, maybe trees aren't that great. Maybe they kind of suck? Nope, too late now, I've made my choice and I'm sticking with it. Trees are great. Here is a list of B1G state trees, meticulously ranked after an exhaustive analysis of their individual merits.

11. Nebraska- Eastern Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)

Uggghhh the worst. Have you ever wondered where all those insane bits of fluff that float around by the hundreds of billions come from during late spring and early summer? Yeah, it's the cottonwood, here to ruin your day out at the park or the lake or where ever you were planning on heading out to on your day off. Cottonwood trees are like 40% of the reason why I'm leaning toward a totally monastic life during the summer months from now on.

Ideal piece of literature to read beneath its shade: If I Did It, by Harvey Updyke

10. Pennsylvania- Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis)

The eastern hemlock is not poisonous, and did not play a role in the death of Socrates. Despite being a pine tree, it's also a pretty crappy Christmas tree, because it sheds its needles almost as soon as it gets cut down. And, on top of all that, it's being threatened by a lowly little insect that devours its sap.

*salutes*Thar she grows!

So, quick run down here: can't kill a feeble old dude, doesn't like celebrating family holidays, gets beaten up by even the lowliest of animals. A shameful tree indeed.

Ideal piece of literature to read beneath its shade: The Allegory of the Cave, preferably out loud and in a mocking tone of voice.

9. Iowa- Corn (MON810)

Delicious and nutritious, the mighty corn rises over the many hills and valleys of the great state of Iowa, providing shade and sustenance to hundreds of millions of people around the world. Corn is capable of growing nearly 10 feet high (although some types grow even higher), and lucky Iowans who can climb to the top of corn are greeted by a breathtaking view that stretches far and wide.

Ideal piece of literature to read beneath its shade: 11-796 BOWMAN v. MONSANTO Co. et al

8. & 7. Illinois and Maryland- White Oak (Quercus alba)

Both state stumbled upon the white oak as their official tree through some interesting methods. Illinois actually let a bunch of schoolkids vote on it, in which the white oak barely beat out PIZZA!!! and the venerable boobs tree, whereas Maryland actually had possession of the world's oldest living white oak until a wolf huffed and puffed and knocked it down. So they cloned it and planted it again in the same spot, and old man McGillicutty never knew the difference! Tee hee!

Ideal piece of literature to read beneath its shade: Amazing Spider-Man #149

6. New Jersey- Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra)

The northern red oak is about as generic as trees get. If you're walking down the street, minding your own business, and someone on a car screams at you THINK OF A TREE, completely non-BS studies have shown that 87% of the time, that person will think of a northern red oak. In addition to being highly generic, their wood is perfectly suited for indoor building uses. So if you want to be a cool guy at a party, look at any woodworking and tell everybody "hey I bet that's northern red oak."

When the host inevitably shrugs and says "uh, I 'unno," you now have the upper hand and may make a move on his fiancee at any time. And if there happens to be someone around who actually knows what different types of wood look like, you've got at least a 50/50 chance of being right and having someone to back you up.

Ideal piece of literature to read beneath its shade: Identifying Wood, by R. Bruce Hoadley

5. Indiana- Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)

5 points for the cool-ass tree with buds that look like the plant from Little Shop of Horrors, negative a billion points to Indiana for copying Kentucky and Tennessee's state trees. Really? Of all trees, SEC state trees? I'm not mad, I'm just... I'm just disappointed, Indiana. Wait for us in the car.

Ideal piece of literature to read beneath its shade: Queen Bees and Wannabes, by Rosalind Wiseman

4. Michigan- Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)

A decent pine tree, which puts it head and shoulders above most other trees. One thing I learned while doing my usual research for this post (ie, going on Wikipedia and opening up a tab for each state tree) is that the needles of the eastern white pine tree contain more vitamin C by weight than lemons do.

Now, that particular fact wasn't properly cited, so there's a pretty good chance that it's weapons grade hippie BS, but in my opinion that shouldn't stop millions of Michigan Wolverine fans from shoving handfuls of pine needles into their mouths. Right now.

DO IT.

Ideal piece of literature to read beneath its shade: The Master Cleanser, by Stanley Burroughs

3. Wisconsin- Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Yes, Wisconsin shares their state tree with three other states, but who cares? The sugar maple is the tree that Paul Bunyan himself would wring out and drink the delicious morsels that come forth, for you see, the sugar maple brings us maple syrup. Aside from being the sole component of the economy of Vermont, the sugar tree is a beautiful example of Mother Nature deciding for once not to totally screw us. The evolutionary forces at work that led to a tree's sap being a perfect complement to all manner of waffles and pancakes astounds me. Truly breathtaking.

Ideal piece of literature to read beneath its shade: The lyrics to this, over and over and over

2. Minnesota- Red Pine (Pinus resinosa)

Generally speaking, my favorite trees are incredibly tall trees that reach heights that most buildings in my hometown can't even aspire to. I love both the enormity of them and also the fact that they're really just macro versions of even the smallest blades of grass, creating a kind of weird and beautiful symmetry that is only really found in nature.

But mostly I like the idea of some nerd getting hung by his underwear way up in the branches of one, and since the red pine can grow to almost 150 feet high, that is straight up hilarious to me. SALUTE YOUR SHORTS, NERDLINGER AHAHAHAH!!

Ideal piece of literature to read beneath its shade: Probably something by some dork about geek stuff

1. Ohio- Ohio Buckeye (Aesculus glabra)

Well, duh. I've been accused of showing favoritism toward Ohio in these lists (I don't see it), but I think that the Ohio Buckeye is pretty clearly the best on this list. We all know about the ingeniously poison nuts, which is like a cool inside joke in the plant world that no one really gets until they're dead.

Short aside: when I taught English in Japan a few years back, I brought some Buckeye nuts with me as a symbol of where I was from. I had the kids look at them and pass them around, and when they were done, I told them that what they had just handled was straight poison. And then I told them they'd be fine, but not before 10 seconds or so of them freaking out.

Anyway, aside from representing Ohioans in general and having poison nuts, the Ohio Buckeye is also a Class A climbing tree, and provides some pretty incredible shade. And speaking of which...

Ideal piece of literature to read beneath its shade: The Winner's Manual, by James Tiberius Tressel


And that'll wrap it up for this week. Next week we cast our gaze at the various state capitals of the B1G, and think real long and hard about why Lansing is better than Harrisburg. See you then!

The B1G List: State Birds | State Mottos | State FlowersState Songs | State Fossils | State Flags | TV Shows

61 Comments

Comments

ATXbucknut's picture

Best one yet, Johnny.  I guffawed at #9.
But, yeah, F trees.

Young_Turk's picture

Nose raped.  Even worse.

BME_Buckeye's picture

There is a 11W poster with the name Aesculus. It all make sense now. Thanks! 

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.

 

Aesculus.'s picture

Here I am in all my Glory!!  Great article. 
 

11/8/2014 @Michigan State aka Payback

Michael Citro's picture

There is unrest in the forest. There is trouble with the trees. For the maples want more sunlight and the oaks ignore their pleas.

CanadianBuckeye's picture

Play that Diane Sawyer song next!

Northbrook's picture

Damn funny Johnny, good work.
This isn't a state tree as far as I know but I really enjoy a Silver Linden. When it blossoms the bees get drunk on it. I like to get a skin full myself (more sporting that way) and head out to the tree with a tennis racket for some exercise. I may be why the bees are in decline.

thatlillefty's picture

You're pretty sick, chubbs.

Northbrook's picture

That's not the least of it. "I keep in trim smashing butterflies with a sledgehammer."
Who can identify the author of that quote?

Buckeyevstheworld's picture

If we keep getting these wind storms there won't be that many trees left in Columbus.

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Earle's picture

The weeping shrub version of the Eastern Hemlock is, in fact, toxic to cows.  Don't ask me how I know.

Italics are for emphasis.

CanadianBuckeye's picture

First off, great article Johnny!  I feel like this one was one of the easier lists to put Ohio atop of.
As an aside though I wanted to ask if you could offer any of your experiences teaching english over seas?  I have long been looking into ESL classes and really want to experience some foriegn lands but just am unsure about the whole thing.  I imagine it is quite interesting and something that would stick with you for a while.  Would you call your experience in Japan as success?  Would you do it again if you could go back and have a do over?  (I know that is very off topic so if you don't want to answer no worries, just something that caught my eye.  Also if you have written about it elsewhere and want to point me in that direction that would be fine as well.)

Johnny Ginter's picture

i really enjoyed doing it. i was in the JET program, and the application/interview process was really stressful and extensive, but once i was in i was good to go.

success is really dependent on what your goals are. at the time i had never been out of the country even once, and didn't really speak the language, so my goal was to see a little bit of the world and challenge myself in a new country, so by that criteria it was a huge success.

i loved japan. in the JET program you get to tell them where you'd prefer to be placed, and even though I ended up in kyushu instead of hokkaido (i love the cold and hate the heat), it worked out really well. i lucked out on my living situation and had some sweet digs, i met some really amazing people and made some incredible friends, and i've done things that i would never, EVER have had experienced in the US. and i got paid a ridiculous amount of money.

i could probably write several thousand words on the japanese school system and it's pluses and minuses, but to be succinct, if i were to go back i would want to be much more of a "teacher" than i was the first time. i was rotating around 7/8 different schools (which admittedly is rare, its usually 2-4 max) and that meant that i would see a group of kids and then not see them again for a month or more. that sucked. i'm a teacher, and part of that is making connections with kids and trying to improve their lives, and though i had fun being the goofy american dude the first time, it's about more than that for me.

anyway, to sum up: it was an amazing experience that i would recommend to anyone who is genuinely open minded and, more importantly, genuinely wants to teach and help children. if you're those things, it's a great gig.

i don't know if i'd go back now that i'm gainfully employed as a teacher, but if i were still subbing and hurting for a job, i'd think long and hard about it.

CanadianBuckeye's picture

Thank you for the great info sir!  I appreciate you taking the time to type all that up for me.
Thanks to the two posters below as well!  Upvotes to all!

Orlando Pancakes's picture

I can't speak for Johnny but I have had two cousins of mine teach English in Japan and they both loved it. I am thinking about doing it myself but not necessarily in Japan. Definitely a great way to travel for cheap (by way of making money during your travels) to one location at a time.
 
Edit: I should hit refresh before commenting. Johnny hit you up with some great info.

zbd's picture

I taught English in Korea for several years. Would recommend it for anyone with an open mind, able to adapt and accepting other cultures as they are.  Best of luck. 

Basso Profondo's picture

I personally am a fan of the Eastern Cottonwood, but nothing beats the personality of an Ohio Buckeye tree.  I see them all the time and it never gets old.

MassiveAttack's picture

Death to all Cottonwood trees! Burn them to the ground!  Ugh, my allergies and my filthy air conditioner coils.  Thanks a lot, Cottonwood.
lol

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Excellent article Johnny!  I don't see a hint of favoritism!  You just have to pick the best one and that is what you have been doing!  The Buckeye Tree is clearly the best one!!
 

thatlillefty's picture

While not the state tree of MD, the Japanese Cherry Blossoms are pretty awesome in the spring.

GoBlueBlood's picture

Johnny. Please. For me. Just one time. I will pay twice as much for my subscription next month if you place Michigan at #1. 
Until then, I wait. 

Earle's picture

This is science, painstakingly researched and compiled by Johnny. As such, it is immune to your pleadings. The jokes, however, are for free, although I'm sure tips would be appreciated.

Italics are for emphasis.

harleymanjax's picture


I find it odd that down here in Florida we have Red Buckeye trees, these things are so scarlet they belong in OHIO!
 

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

Hovenaut's picture

Be assured, there's not a tree on this list that appeals to Harvey Updyke:

I am not the Last Dragon, therefore I do not possess the power of the Glow.

BuckeyeSki's picture


"West Siiiiiide"

Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

brandonbauer87's picture

This is the best yet. Thanks for sending me down a Maryland oak tree wormhole. You just had to pique my interest. 

AndyVance's picture

Corn should definitely be higher than #9.
I mean, seriously. CORN. What's not to love?

TDunk10's picture

Corn has been completely genetically modified from what you think it is.  Just like the original banana is extinct.    

Aesculus.'s picture

Oh no he didn't!!! TDunk, Uncle Andy knows it's GMO, that's why he likes it.  Agree to disagree kinda thing.

11/8/2014 @Michigan State aka Payback

AndyVance's picture

Aesculus is right - I prefer genetically-enhanced corn (my brother is a farmer - there are many economic and environmental benefits that we don't need to discuss 'cause it's borderline political, as Aesculus and I have discussed previously and definitely agree to disagree)... I'll just point out, ever so tactfully, that we've been genetically modifying crops ever since that pesky monk Mendel started his experiments. We just do it now with the benefits of super-cool science and technology.

TDunk10's picture

What about the banana? Why not worry about the yellow fruit?

CALPOPPY's picture

Yeah, one bad fungal epidemic in the Cavendish bananas and prices are going to skyrocket. They're just all clones.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Earle's picture

I don't love the popcorn hulls that get stuck in my teeth. Also, my mom used to make a corn casserole to take to the grieving family any time someone died. The dish became known in our family as Death Corn.

Italics are for emphasis.

CALPOPPY's picture

Andy, corn is pretty great but it's not a tree. So argue its merits all you want but it doesn't belong here. Johnny probably included corn on the lists for Iowa because the starting tree probably was injured.
AISTHG is a vengeful God.
*Angry Iowa State Tree Hating God

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

CALPOPPY's picture

And the state tree of Iowa is officially Quercus. So Iowa can't even just choose a tree, just a genus. Probably why AISTHG is so angry.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

AndyVance's picture

I'm glad I don't live in Iowa. They have a whole pantheon of angry gods... I shudder to think about the Angry Iowa Farm Writer God - I'll be he's a real SOB.

harleymanjax's picture

I used to drive a Septic Tank Pump truck.................CORN IS FOREVER!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

unholy bucknut's picture

Good list its right where it should be. I dont think youre being biased at all........

Aesculus.'s picture

Aesculus Glabra or The Ohio Buckeye is not just in Ohio, as you can see we dominate many states.
 

11/8/2014 @Michigan State aka Payback

Menexenus's picture

Nice to see that our beloved Buckeye tree has already invaded Alabama.

Real fans stay for Carmen.

Earle's picture

Tell them to watch out for that Updyke guy.

Italics are for emphasis.

CALPOPPY's picture

Nice pic. I use data like this all the time for my research.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

brandonbauer87's picture

Fittingly, Ohio is the only state that is completely light green. 

Aesculus.'s picture

Johnny, no love for the Burr Oak, Quercus marcrocarpa, Iowa's state tree??

11/8/2014 @Michigan State aka Payback

pjtobin's picture

I like trees that are tall and straight. So my climber stand and I can get up high enough to avoid the pesky nose of a deer. It's almost time for that too! I love OHIO!!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

Aesculus.'s picture

This is Ohio's champion "Ohio Buckeye" located in Greenwich, Huron County.  236 Points.
 

 
Big Tree National Champion - Aesculus glabra  266pts.  DuPage, Illinois   Thomas L. Green
That's right, Tom Green.

11/8/2014 @Michigan State aka Payback

CALPOPPY's picture

Hey Aesculus, it shows you graduated in '97. What degree?
I was there around the same time in Horticulture.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Aesculus.'s picture

BS in Marketing....Should have done Horticulture.

11/8/2014 @Michigan State aka Payback

CALPOPPY's picture

Props to knowing some plants. Funny thing is that many horticulturists should have been in marketing. Many growers can grow anything but never make money.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

CALPOPPY's picture

Edited because: Who cares what I had to say?

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Menexenus's picture

Come on, Johnny.  Red Delicious?  Really?  They should be called "Red Blands."  Braeburns are way better.

Real fans stay for Carmen.

CALPOPPY's picture

Anything is better than Red Delicious.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Johnny Ginter's picture

honeycrisp all the way every day, but i really just wanted to make a dumb joke there

also asian pears are by far my favorite fruit and it isn't even close

CALPOPPY's picture

Good Asian pears are awesome. Unripe pears with no flavor really suck but that's like any fruit picked before their time.
The other fruit I really like that has a Japanese slant is the persimmon. Persimmons picked at the right time are amazing.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

CALPOPPY's picture

Confession time: I have two of these state trees on my wedding ring.
Aesculus glabra and Quercus rubra. Those along with Platanus occidentalis (sycamore), Acer griseum (paperbark maple), and Ginkgo biloba (ginkgo).

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!

CALPOPPY's picture

This is basically a good pun auto-helmet sticker. I'm always looking to branch out with my pun repertoire.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.

frozen buckeye's picture

Nice list but
FUCK THE RED PINE!
It should be at the bottom of the list. 
I'm in MN now and Treegasm '13 is almost complete.  No tree species 'gasms like the Red Pine.  For weeks everything has been covered in yellow pollen.  It penetrates (yeah, that's the term) even the slightest crack to infiltrate every surface in every building, vehicle, and boat for miles.  The cottonwood fluffs are nothing compared to the red pine's thick yellow silt.
If its obnoxious ejaculate is not reason enough to remove the Red Pine from any Top Ten list:
-Maine had the Paul Bunyan legend first.
-Bob Ross never painted a Red Pine. 
-Red Pines are lousy climbing trees.
 

CALPOPPY's picture

Your parents must have had a red pine paddle for when you were bad.

I'm a hurtin' buckaroo.