Rotarians have planted trees in the name of fellowship, friendship, and community service since the early 20th century. These trees, which can be found worldwide, have grown into enduring monuments of Rotary’s ideals.
As president emeritus, Paul Harris traveled extensively during the 1920s and 1930s, often accompanied by his wife Jean. During these trips, the nature-loving Harris planted trees to symbolize goodwill and friendship.
In 1935 Paul Harris paid an important visit to Shanghai where he planted one of his “Friendship Tree.” This was one of many visits Paul paid throughout the five continents between approximately 1932-1942 on a mission to spread good will among peoples and nations of the world. Upon several occasions, Boards of Rotary International have extended to us invitations to visit the Rotary clubs of other counties; such invitations we have, as a rule, accepted and we have tried to make ourselves ambassadors of good-will. With the cooperation of Rotarians and local governments, I have planted friendship trees in the parks and playgrounds on all the five continents of the world and even on some of the major islands of the seas. Our trees stood as symbols of international understanding and good-will. National and municipal governments have participated in the ceremonies incident to such plantings and monuments bearing bronze plates with appropriate inscriptions, have, in several instances, been erected. Our tree plantings are merely gestures of good-will but they are intelligible to all the citizens of the various countries whatever language they speak. About his period in Shanghai in 1935, Paul Harris writes in his memories that he was given the privilege of planting a tree in Shanghai and several officials of the city and many Rotarians were present.
Today, Rotarians continue to plant trees to symbolize enduring friendships and fellowship, to beautify parks and communities, and to contribute to a greener world. Our Club is taking over this tradition and exactly on the day of Paul Harris birthday, 150 year later, planted a new Friendship Tree at Pudong Fudu School with the a group of Special need children who enjoyed playing with us and helped us during the planting. The chosen tree is a young strong Cherry Blossom and it is our intention to follow its growth by returning every year to school during it blooming season and spend some time with these amazing sweet loving kids. The tree is to be a symbol of true friendship lasting for generations.