Friendship trees

The fact is that Sydney Pascall, RI president in 1931 was the
first president to plant a tree during a presidential visit.

In ‘The Rotarian’ in July 1932, Sydney Pascall wrote: “Before I left London for my round the world club visitations, Paul Harris, revered founder of Rotary, suggested that a most appropriateway of symbolizing the Rotary idea would be the planting of trees.

I started this observance in the National Botanical Gardens at Cape Town, and since then I have planted more than 30 trees, while 22 others have been set out by Mrs Pascall, our daughter, and mayors and Rotary leaders. Let us hope that our active pursuit of friendship among the nations may be symbolized by these trees.

We recall the saying; ‘and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. ‘May it be so.”

“It is not good that the man should be alone” hence I took Jean with me and her presence shed its customary glow over every picture.”
From Peregrinations, Volume II
“We Become Pacific-Ocean Minded”
by Paul P. Harris, President Emeritus, Rotary International – copyright 1937, Jean T. Harris,

courtesy of the Rotary International Archives

The RGHF “Friendship Tree” Gavel

But, it was Paul and Jean Harris who created a friendship garden at their home, Comely Bank, in Chicago. In the 1930’s they were invited by the board of directors to visit many Rotary conventions and gatherings around the world. In nearly 50 places that the project has been able to find, the Harris’ planted trees. Some even survived wars, some did not, but were replanted.