We can’t stress enough the importance of trees in our world. The moment the first trees grew on land more than 300 million years ago, life on Earth began to evolve at a phenomenal rate. Terrestrial creatures have in one way or another benefit from the trees that grew over time, including us humans. Now, the importance of trees is even more apparent even as we have come this far in terms of technology and development. Trees still provide some of our most basic and yet we rarely show appreciation or give a shred of importance to them.
Here, we will share some weird facts about trees in the hopes of raising awareness and appreciation of these majestic plants.
1 – Tree Root Systems Vary Widely
Just because trees grow tall or have wide stems doesn’t necessarily mean their roots are buried deep underground to support them. In reality, the root systems of trees vary with the type of soil, tree species, and climate. Most trees do not have a taproot and most roots spread at the uppermost 18 inches of the soil, which should be kept in mind if you are doing Tree Transplanting in your garden, nursery, or farm. Growing conditions for trees are best at this depth. This knowledge is useful, especially when digging planting holes and applying fertilizers for seedlings or newly transplanted trees.
2 – There Are Dinosaur-Era Trees Still Living Today
The Wollemi pine (Wollemia Nobilis), once thought to have been extinct for 150 million years, was discovered in a temperate rainforest at Wollemi National Park in Australia. This tree, considered a living fossil, dates back to the Jurassic Period, but only as few 80 mature trees, along with 300 seedlings and juveniles, are left. Another fascinating tree in terms of prehistoric ties is the ginkgo tree (Ginkgo biloba). This ancient tree species dates back as far as 200 million years. This living fossil tree is widely cultivated in China, Korea, and Japan.
3 – Trees Have Ingenious Defense Mechanisms
Don’t take trees lightly when it comes to self-defense. Trees may seem like inherently standing over the soil, but when they are attacked by insects, they produce insect-repellent chemicals to ward them off and prevent further attacks. Aside from protecting their own barks, they also send airborne chemical signals to other nearby trees to help them prepare for an insect attack. Even more amazing is that trees also produce chemicals that attract parasites and natural predators of the insects that attack them.
4 – There are Species of Trees that are Poisonous
Taking their defense mechanism to the extreme, there are trees that are definitely off-limits to humans. These trees produce toxic chemicals from various parts such as fruits, leaves, sap, bark, etc. Some of the known poisonous trees include the sandbox tree, the manchineel tree, the othalam tree (aka suicide tree), and hemlock.
5 – The Redwood Tree is Among the Tallest Tree Species
The coniferous Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is considered one of, if not, the tallest tree species on Earth. It joins the ranks of the giant sequoia, spruce, fir, and cypress when it comes to trees that reach incredible heights. Currently, the record holder of being the tallest tree is Hyperion, a Coast redwood tree, with a height of 380.3 feet (115.92 meters).
6 – Some Trees Have Incredibly Long Lifespans
Not only do trees share an ancient connection with their ancestors, but they also live incredibly long. Some are capable of living through several millennia, with Methuselah (a Great Basin bristlecone pine) being the oldest known individual living tree, living for 4,851 years and counting. Clonal colonies, or a colony of trees coming from a single ancestor, live even considerably longer, with Utah’s Pando aspen grove dating back more than 80,000 years.
7- The Largest Organism in the World is a Tree
Various organisms have vied for the title of being the largest, but the humble tree has bested them all. Again, the name Pando grabs the limelight in this category. This single aspen tree has grown so large underground and created clones of itself that spread across at least 5 miles of forest. Called a clonal colony, the Pando aspen grove looks like multiple trees or even a forest on the surface, but they are just offshoots of a single gigantic tree.
8 – Trees Can Relieve Stress and Help You Recharge
There are many sensory effects that trees have on people that can improve their mind, body, and spirit. The practice of forest bathing has long been practiced in Japan for improving physical and mental well-being. Soaking up the sensory experience given by trees in the forest can give you a feeling of being refreshed and lowers the production of stress hormones and chemicals.
9 – Earth Has At Least 60,000 Recorded Tree Species
Trees have been around for quite some time, but it has only been recently that a global census of tree species has been established. Just last 2017, the results of combined efforts of data collection by various scientists were published in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry. They collected a total of 60,065 currently known species.
10 – Tree Growth Rings Can Tell You Directions
Growth rings, or the rings you on the stump of a felled tree, have long been known to determine its actual age. A lesser-known use of growth rings is for telling direction. If you find yourself getting lost in the woods and you do not have a compass with you, consider yourself saved if you see the stump of a downed tree. A known rule of reading the growth rings is finding the spot with thicker growth ring patterns. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, this thick spot points to the south (where sunlight is more abundant), and the side with narrow rings points the north direction. The reverse applies when you live in the Southern Hemisphere.
Just having known 10 weird facts about trees can make you think how cool they are. More importantly, it opens up your knowledge and awareness about the importance of trees. We hope that the facts shared here will open up a path to search for more knowledge about trees and how to proactively protect and plant trees to make Earth a beautiful place to live for our current and future generations.