Tree Will Become Part Of City’s Symbols – Flag, Coat Of Arms And Mayor’s Chain Of Office
TORONTO: A special ceremony was held at Cedar Ridge Park where Mayor John Tory unveiled Toronto’s Official Tree: the oak tree. Mayor Tory was joined by Councillor Jennifer McKelvie (Scarborough-Rouge Park), Chair of the Infrastructure and Environment Committee, and special guests at the event on Saturday.
Toronto’s Official Tree was selected by a public vote, held from April 21 to May 10, where Toronto residents could cast their vote for the tree they felt best represents Toronto. City of Toronto staff engaged with Indigenous representatives and selected the four trees that most represent Toronto: birch, maple, oak and pine. Close to 11,000 votes were received, with the oak tree receiving 47 per cent of the votes, the maple tree in second place with 31 per cent, the birch tree 14 per cent and the pine tree received eight per cent of the votes.
Trees provide shade, energy savings, wildlife habitat and improve air quality through removal of carbon dioxide and airborne pollutants. The City has long recognized the importance of urban trees and the benefits they provide. Residents are encouraged to visit the Official Tree webpage to learn more about each of the four trees, their significance and history, as well as watch informational videos on the trees featuring Indigenous Knowledge Keepers and City staff.
Toronto’s Official Tree will become part of the City’s official symbols, which also include a City flag, Coat of Arms and the Mayor’s Chain of Office. Ceremonial symbols are used to communicate the history and culture of a city, highlight important features of the environment and instill pride and unity amongst community members.
• Mature oak trees can grow up to 30 metres high with deep roots and thick, fire-resistant bark, and are known for their strength and longevity.
• Food source and shelter species for wildlife including small mammals and birds.
• Tree crowns provide shelter, and hollow cavities in trunks and branches are used by wildlife for nesting and winter shelter.
• Oak trees flower early in spring as the leaves are unfurling, using the wind to transport its pollen
• Leaves often remain on the tree into winter.
• Oaks are host plants for butterflies including the Juvenal’s Duskywing, Edwards’ Hairstreak, and Banded Hairstreak species
How to identify an oak tree:
• When open grown, the branches are wide spreading and some may be horizontal.
• Leaves and branches are arranged alternately.
• The bark on young trees is smooth and grey, but as the tree ages it develops vertical flat-topped ridges separated by reddish furrows.
• Fruit is an acorn with a scaly cup that looks like a hat atop the nut.
Ideal growing conditions:
• Moisture: moist to dry
• Shade: intolerant of shade, prefers full sun
• Soil: adaptable
• Bur oak acorns are sweet and edible, and have been used both traditionally and currently as a source of food.
• White oak acorns are sweet and edible when raw and were traditionally an important staple food for Indigenous populations.
• Wood from white oak is waterproof and has traditionally been used as a watertight woods.
Where to find oak trees in Toronto:
• Lambton Woods
• High Park
• Earl Bales Park
• Queen’s Park
• Crother’s Woods
• Sunnybrook Park
• Rouge Park
Mayor John Tory said: “The oak tree is an important part of Toronto’s urban forest. It is a great representation of the city of Toronto and plays a vital role in our history. Naming Toronto’s Official Tree recognizes the significance of all trees, strengthening our connection to nature. Thank you to the thousands of residents s across Toronto who voted to select the Official Tree.”
Councillor Jennifer McKelvie added: “The announcement of the oak tree as Toronto’s Official Tree reaffirms our commitment to growing, enhancing and protecting Toronto’s urban forest. All four of the tree options – birch, maple, oak and pine – are reflective of Toronto and its history.”