Trees are necessary to support life and keep the natural balance of our planet. They aid in reversing climate change, are wonderful for adding beauty to your surroundings, and really can take the heat off your back. They’re protectors, defenders, and our greatest supporters. They’re also pretty remarkable in many other ways… ways that just might surprise you.
Here are 10 amazing things you didn’t know about trees:
1. Trees are the Oldest Living Organisms on Earth
In Utah, the Pando colony of Quaking Aspen, also known as the Trembling Giant, is believed to be the oldest living organism on Earth. Although it’s not a single tree, the 105-acre colony is made of genetically identical trees, called stems, connected by a single root system. The root system is estimated to be 80,000 years old!
2. Trees Never Grow Beyond Their Means
Trees do not grow beyond their ability to support themselves. During periods of stress they shed their flowers, leaves, fruit, seeds, and/or branches. They also do not repair injured wood or branches. They segment off the damaged tissue and focus resources on the healthy growth.
3. Trees Never Die of Old Age
Tree never die of old age. Typically, they are killed by insects, people, or disease. Some individual trees, including California Bristlecone Pines and Giant Sequoias, have been known to live 4,000 to 5,000 years.
4. Trees Communicate
Some trees are known to talk or communicate with each other. For example, when willow trees are attacked by insects, they release a chemical that alerts all nearby willows of the danger. The neighboring trees then respond by pumping more tannin into their leaves making it difficult for the insects to digest the leaves.
5. Some Tree Species are Endangered
We typically think of wildlife when we talk about endangered species. There are also thousands of endangered tree species including the maple-leaf oak, four-petal pawpaw, Grandidier's baobab, and the dragon’s blood tree.
6. Trees Have Gone to the Moon
In 1971, trees were brought to the moon as part of the Apollo 14 mission, where “moon trees” were grown. Some seedlings made it home where they were planted and live to this day.
7. Trees Act as a Compass
It’s possible to use trees for navigation. Typically, moss grows on the northern side of tree trunks in northern temperate climates. If you find a tree that has been cut down (make sure to plant one in its memory), you can also use the rings to detect the direction of north. The rings of a tree trunk are slightly thicker on the southern side if a tree grows in the northern hemisphere, because it receives more light. The opposite is true for trees grown in the southern hemisphere.
8. Trees Contain DNA
The amount of DNA in a tree exceeds that of a human. In fact, your average Christmas tree has seven times more DNA circulating through its system than you do!
9. Trees Can Explode
The sandbox tree is considered armed and dangerous. Aside from its trunk, which contains endless thorns that are closely packed together, and its leaves, bark, and seeds, which are extremely poisonous, a sandbox also has pumpkin-like seeds that protrude from its trunk and shoot out at a speed of 150 mph when they go off (explode). The force is similar to a shotgun and can inflict serious harm to anything standing nearby.
10. Trees Never Forget
Researchers have found that genetically linked or identical trees respond to their present environment based on what’s happened in the past. This leads experts to believe that memory is somehow retained at the molecular level. They believe that trees actually remember where they came from and adapt to what they’ve already learned. Smart trees!
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