The state tree of Iowa is the oak tree. When the 59th Iowa General Assembly chose the oak tree in 1961, it didn’t specify any particular species. Many people feel the bur oak is the best fit for the state tree, possibly because it’s the most widespread species of oak in Iowa. An alternate spelling is burr oak, and this tree also goes by the names mossycup oak and mossycup white oak.
Oak Tree Characteristics
Oak trees have lobed leaves that can grow to 12 inches long. An oak tree’s fruit is called an acorn. Mature oaks are quite proliferous, and a single tree can produce tens of thousands of acorns every year. Many birds and animals, including deer, quail, squirrels, and bluejays, rely on acorns as a staple food source. Oak wood is very dense and resistant to insects and fungi, so it has various uses, including flooring, lumber, and barrels for aging wine and spirits.
Did You Know?
- The scientific name of the bur oak is Quercus macrocarpa.
- America’s official national tree is also the oak tree.
- The Iowa Horticultural Society conducted a poll to choose the state tree during the 1958 Iowa State Fair. Nearly 14,000 votes were cast, and the winning tree was the black maple. The bur oak was fifth on the list.
- The Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension of Iowa State University indicates that Iowa has 12 native species of oak, but the bur oak is the only one that is found throughout the entire state.
What Is the Most Common Tree in Iowa?
Unfortunately, there’s not a simple answer. According to a 2013 publication from the U.S. Forest Service, the American elm is the most numerous species in terms of total number of trees statewide. However, the bur oak wins the prize for the species with the highest total statewide live-tree volume on forest land, with a total of just under half a billion cubic feet.
What Are the Best Trees To Plant in Iowa?
If you’re an Iowa resident wanting to add some trees to your yard, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources has some suggestions. These trees grow relatively quickly:
- Silver maple
- American sycamore
- River birch
- Hybrid willow
Iowa State University’s tree planting guide says that early spring is the best time to plant trees. Though it’s possible to plant trees throughout the year, there is a higher chance of failure for trees planted in late fall and winter.
What Are Other Iowa State Symbols?
Along with the state tree, Iowa has many other state emblems:
- Iowa state flower: wild rose (no official species, but many sources display the wild prairie rose)
- Iowa state bird: American goldfinch (sometimes specified as the eastern goldfinch subspecies)
- Iowa state song: The Song of Iowa by S.H.M. Byers
- Iowa state rock: geode
- Iowa state motto: “Our liberties we prize, and our rights we will maintain.”
Iowa is known as the Hawkeye State. There is no conclusive proof about where this nickname originated. Some sources indicate that it may have been inspired by the book The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper. In the book, there is a scout named Hawkeye.
What Is the State of Iowa Known For?
Though many people immediately think of cornfields, there are several other things that Iowa is famous for.
- It’s the top pork producer in the U.S., and it has more pigs than any other state (23.6 million).
- The Iowa caucuses kick off the presidential primaries.
- Des Moines hosts the Iowa State Fair, which always includes a cow sculpture made of butter.
- It’s the only state with borders that are navigable rivers (the Mississippi and the Missouri).
- Iowa was the first state where the Red Delicious apple was grown.
- Sioux City is home to the Mid American Museum of Aviation & Transportation and the Sergeant Floyd Monument, which commemorates the single casualty of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Of course, it does make sense to think about cornfields. Iowa produces more corn than any other state; 12.8 million acres of corn were harvested there in 2018.