Trees. They offer shade on a summer’s day. Stunning bursts of colour in fall. The stark beauty of bark against an overcast winter sky. And the hope of rebirth as green leaf shoots sprouts from seemingly out of nowhere in spring. Trees are not only pretty to look at; they are vital to the existence of life. Trees produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide, offer a home for teeming communities of wildlife, provide us with timber for making an infinite number of products, and are in general, absolutely incredible. Living beings, large to small, require plants because they eat them and live in them.
It is very difficult to exaggerate the significance of trees. Their debut more than 300 million years ago was a turning point for Earth, helping transform its surface into a bustling utopia for animals. Trees have housed, fed, and nurtured countless creatures over time, including our own ancestors. Humans rarely live in trees, but that doesn’t mean we can survive without them. Nearly 3 trillion trees currently exist, elevating habitats from old-growth forests to city streets. Yet despite our deep-rooted dependence on trees, we tend to take them for granted.
Humans clear millions of forested areas every year, mostly for short-term rewards despite long-term risks like wildlife declines, desertification, and climate change. Science has been helping us understand tree’s resources more sustainably, and to protect vulnerable forests more effectively, but we definitely still have a long way to go.
The planet has nearly 46% fewer trees than it did about 12,000 years ago when agriculture was in its infancy. The mere presence of trees has been shown to make us happier, calmer, and more innovative, and often boosts the appraisal of property value. Trees hold deep symbolism in numerous religions, and cultures around the planet have long respected what a walk in the forest can do.
How much are you aware of trees? In fact, there are numerous surprising facts about trees that we are sure you had no idea about…
Trees can be female, male, and both. They experience stress and talk to each other. Trees can get very thirsty. There are numerous other amazing facts about trees that you don’t know. With the help of this article, we at Nelda, are going to tell you more about trees. In this article, you’ll be able to find interesting facts about trees that you probably didn’t know.
1. Earth has more than 80,000 edible plant species.
2. Trees fight wrongdoing
We know, sounds strange! But suburbs and homes with barren landscapes have been shown to have an increased incidence of violence in and out of the house than their greener counterparts. Research indicates that urban trees are correlated with lower crime rates including vandalism, graffiti, and littering.
3. By planting nearly 20 million trees, the earth, and its population will be provided with 260 million more tons of oxygen. Those same 20 million trees will also remove the 10 million tons of CO2.
4. The limbs of a tree are not perfectly round. They have a compression side (the upper side) and a tension side (lower side) which enables them to support their own weight plus the weight of the leaves, nuts, or fruits, suspended in mid-air.
5. Trees are phanerogams, which means that they reproduce by seeds, and, therefore, they have specialized visible organs of reproduction, namely flowers.
6. Bark of trees that grow in the shade is mostly thin, while the bark of trees that grow in sunny places is thicker.
7. Trees can communicate and defend themselves against attacking insects. Scientists have found that trees can flood their leaves with chemicals called phenolics when the insects begin their raid. They can also signal danger to other trees so they can start their own defense.
8. Nutrients and water are absorbed by the root system and carried via the connective tissue to the leaves. Leaves, in turn, transfers sugar down through the connective tissue to the roots.
9. A bristlecone pine tree nicknamed Methuselah is believed to be the oldest tree in the world. Its accurate location has been kept a secret so as to protect it from tourists and vandals.
10. Hospital patients who can see fresh green trees from their rooms are reported to heal faster and spend less time in the hospital than those without. Patients with a view of trees spend 8% fewer days in the hospital.
11. Consumers tend to spend more money on shopping districts with trees. They are most willing to pay more for items purchased in a shopping district with trees. Those same shoppers also say they are willing to stay longer and rate the products and stores as higher quality in a shopping district with the trees.
12. The world’s oldest clonal tree cluster is found in Utah, USA. DNA testing has indicated that a group of quaking aspens named Pando is about 80,000 years old. Its estimated weight is thought to be over 6,000 tons, making it not only the world’s oldest living entity but also the world’s heaviest.
13. Out of sight out of mind
From concrete walls to parking areas – trees can mask the unsightly views. Not only do they offer us a pleasant green landscape, but also muffle massive amounts of sound from nearby streets and highways all while decreasing glare and dust.
14. A tree plant in 288 BC in India is believed to have been propagated from Buddha’s original fig tree. Aptly named Ficus Religiosa, the tree is considered to be one of the most sacred trees in the world.
15. A massive oak tree can drop nearly 10,000 acorns in one year.
The nuts of oak trees are famous for wildlife. In the US, acorns indicate a major food source for more than 100 vertebrate species, and all that attention means that acorns never get to germinate. But oak trees have boom and bust cycles, possibly as an adaptation to help them outfox the acorn-eating animals.
During the acorn boom, known as the mast year, a single large oak can drop as many as 10,000 nuts. And while most of those may end up as a meal for mammals and birds, every so often a lucky acorn gets started on a journey that will carry it hundreds of feet into the sky and a century into the future.
16. Trees improve the water quality by slowing and filtering rainwater and protecting aquifers and watersheds.
17. Banana trees have no wood
Even though we call the plants that produce bananas trees, they have no wood trunk. Instead, they have a fibrous, watery main stalk supported by interior water pressure. Banana ‘trees’ are herbaceous, classification of plants with no above-ground woody stem. It’s quite ironic, given the look of the banana fruit, that the plant has no wood.
18. Some trees emit chemicals that attract enemies to their enemies
Trees may appear helpless and passive, but they are savvier than they seem. Not only can they produce chemicals to fight leaf-eating insects, but can also send airborne chemical signals to each other, apparently warning nearby trees to prepare for an insect attack. Research has indicated that a wide range of trees and other plants become more resistant to insects after receiving such signals.
Tree’s airborne signals can even indicate information outside the plant kingdom. Some have been shown to attract parasites and predators that kill the insects, essentially letting a tormented tree call for backup. For instance, apple trees under attack by caterpillar’s release chemicals that attract caterpillar-eating birds.
19. Babies born in areas with greater numbers of trees are less likely to be born underweight.
20. According to the botanical definition, palms are not trees but massive, woody herbs.
21. Trees stock food, in the form of carbohydrates, in their woody root systems. Woody roots grow in an oblong pattern that helps with the stability of the tree. They also create a hormone that influences above-ground growth.
22. Nearly 16 billion trees are lost every year due to forest management, deforestation, and variations in land use.
23. The diverse parts of a tree grow at different times throughout the year. Typically, most of the foliage growth occurs in the spring, followed by trunk growth in the summer and root growth in the fall and winter.
24. The saying ‘knock on wood’ comes from the ancient pagan rituals where it was believed that good spirits resided inside trees.
25. Storm Season
While misplaced and overgrown trees are harmful during storm season – properly paced and healthy grown trees intercept and slow stormwater, therefore decreasing the chances of flooding and erosion. However, one must never take shelter under a tree during a storm. Trees are negatively charged and lighting positively charged, thus trees often get struck. Also, electricity always takes the ‘path of least resistance’ meaning the tallest object will be struck first, so steer clear.
26. The ailanthus altissimo, or tree of heaven, is said to be the only tree that can grow in cement.
27. Trees can share food
Trees have a symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi that live in their roots. These fungi help trees absorb more water and mineral from the soil, and in turn, trees give fungi sugar molecules, derived in photosynthesis.
28. The average tree living in the city has a life expectancy of merely 8 years.
29. Trees migrate to escape climate change
Trees clearly can’t uproot themselves and move, but their population centers can shift over time in response to climate pressures.
30. A single tree can absorb as much carbon annually as a car makes while driving 26,000 miles.
31. Trees drink plenty of water
An average tree can drink up to 2000 liters of water annually. A massive tree can quickly drink up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground.
32. The most poisonous tree in the world is the manchineel tree, which is native to Florida. If consumed, its fruit can kill a person. Also, standing under the tree during a rainstorm can cause blisters, and the smoke from a burning tree can blind a person.
33. Some trees are used to produce numerous drugs
For instance, the bark of a willow tree is used for producing aspirin, and the Yew tree is used for making such a drug as Taxol.
34. In the year 2012, a Florida meth-addict Sarah Barnes accidentally burned down the world’s fifth oldest tree when she tried to smoke in the hollow of the tree. Named Senator, the ancient tree was nearly 3,500 years old.
35. Spider Trees
Australia is popular for its record amount of spider species, but in 2010 there were massive floods in areas of Pakistan which caused millions of spiders to climb up into the trees to escape the rising water. When the floodwaters went down, the trees were enveloped in a spider’s web. Fortunately, the trees still had a useful function to reduce the mosquito population in the wake of the floods.
36. Kids living in places with more trees have a lower chance of asthma.
37. The ficus religiosa, or sacred fig, is said to be the only tree that rustles its leaves when the air around is still.
38. Trees do not grow over their ability to support themselves. During situations of stress, they cut flowers, leaves, branches, and/or fruits.
39. Pine trees grow on six of seven continents, with Antarctica being the only one left out.
40. The sandbox tree is covered in spikes, contains toxic sap, and has exploding fruits. Nicknamed the ‘Dynamite Tree’, its fruit explodes when ripe, sending hardened seeds over a 60-foot radius at 150 miles per hour.
41. Christmas Trees come from ancient traditions
The tradition of setting up and decorating evergreen conifer trees in homes around the Christmas Holiday first emerged during the Renaissance of early modern Germany. By the 1800s, numerous European nobles and officials adopted and popularized the tradition. The tradition is much older than modern Christianity, though, and dates back to medieval times, when Europeans placed special value in plants that remained green in winter when everything else died. Evergreen boroughs were used in houses to ward off ghosts, witches, and goblins before becoming an emblem of Christmas.
42. Air is a foundation of nutrition for trees
Air plays a crucial role in growing trees. Trees absorb nearly 90% of nutrition from the atmosphere. Only 10% of the tree’s nutrition is absorbed from the soil.
43. Bamboo is not a tree
Bamboo is considered the largest member of the grass family. The hollow nature of bamboo stalks qualifies the plant as grass, as does the vascular tissue scattered randomly around bamboo stems, which is a trunk that grows in a rigid cylindrical pattern. Theoretically, then, bamboo forests might actually be fields of giant grass.
44. A massive oak tree can drink up to 100 gallons of water per day, and a giant sequoia can consume up to 500 gallons regularly.
Numerous mature trees need a massive amount of water, which may be harmful to drought-stricken orchards but is often ideal for people in general. Thirsty trees can limit flooding from heavy rain, especially in low-lying areas like river plains. By helping the ground absorb more water, and by holding the soil together with their roots, trees can decrease the risk of property damage and erosion from flash floods.
A single mature oak, for instance, can transpire more than 40,000 gallons of water in a year – meaning that’s how much flows from its roots to its leaves, which release water as vapor back into the air. The rate of transpiration varies during the year, but 40,000 gallons average out of 109 gallons per day. Massive trees move even more water: A huge sequoia, whose trunk maybe 300 tall, can transpire nearly 500 gallons a day. And since trees emit water vapor, large forests also help make it rain.
Trees have a tendency for soaking up soil pollutants too. One sugar maple can remove 60 milligrams of cadmium, 140 mg of chromium, and 5,200 mg of lead from the soil per year, and research has shown that farm runoff contains up to 88% less nitrate and 76% less phosphorous after flowing through a forest.
45. Trees make Coffee and Chocolate
We know that trees give us fleshy fruits like apples, plums, pears, and oranges, they’re also responsible for our snacking habits. We all love our chocolate and coffee fix. The fruits of the cocoa tree offer the base ingredients of chocolate. Coffee beans are extracted from the berry of the coffee tree. Trees also offer us some of our favorite edible nuts like walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, hazels, and pistachios.
46. People who reside in areas with higher tree numbers have fewer cardio-metabolic health difficulties and are less likely to die of cardiovascular or pulmonary disease.
47. Fungus helps trees grow.
48. Dating a tree by studying its rings is called Dendrochronology. Interestingly, a tree’s rings do not only reveal its age – but they can also indicate the happening of natural disasters such as a drought event or volcanic eruption.
49. The Joshua tree has a biblical name
These plants got their name from a group of Mormon settlers crossing the Mojave in the mid-19th century. The shape of the tree’s branches reminded them of a biblical passage wherein Joshua raises his hands to the sky in prayer.
50. Trees advance the cost value of the property. Houses surrounded by trees sell for 18-25% higher than houses with no trees.
51. Pinecones have genders. Female pinecones make seeds and male pinecones shed pollen. When the wind blows pollen into the female pinecones, the seeds become pollinated.
52. Most tree roots remain in the top 18 inches of soil, but they can also grow above ground or dive a few hundred feet under.
Most trees do not have a taproot, and most tree roots lie in the top 18 inches of soil, where growing conditions tend to be the finest. More than half of a tree’s roots usually grow in the top 6 inches of soil, but that lack of depth is offset by lateral growth: The root system of mature oak, for instance, can be hundreds of miles in length.
Tree roots vary widely based on soil, species, and climate. Bald cypress grows along swamps and rivers, and some of its roots form exposed ‘knees’ that supply air to underwater roots like a snorkel. Similar breathing tubes, called pneumatophores, are also found in the stilt roots of some mangrove trees, along with other adaptations like the ability to filter up to 90% of salt out of seawater.
On the other hand, there are certain trees that extend remarkably deep underground. Certain kinds are more prone to grow a taproot – including oak, hickory, pine, and walnut – especially in sandy, well-drained soils. Trees have been known to go more than 20 ft (6 meters) below the surface under ideal conditions, and a wild fig at South Africa’s Echo Caves has reportedly reached a record root depth of 400 ft.
53. Skin Cancer Shield
Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in most countries. Trees decrease harmful UV exposure by up to 50%. It’s highly significant for trees to be planted in high-traffic areas like playgrounds and school campuses – where children spend hours outdoors.
54. Trees are beneficial in finding the way back if you get lost in the forest. In northern temperate climates, moss grows on the northern side of the tree trunk, where there is more shade. Also, a tree’s rings can help point you in the right direction too. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, you can see the rings of the tree grow slightly thicker on the southern side since it receives more sunlight. In the Southern Hemisphere, the opposite is true, with rings being thicker on the Northern side.
55. Trees do not heal when they are damaged by regenerating cells as other living organisms do. Instead, a wounded tree protects itself by building a wall around the damaged area, which slows or prevents the disease and decay spread. The stems have specialized tissues that allow them to translocate stored energy into an area that needs compartmentalization. This compartmentalization locks the area that has been attacked or wounded by an insect or disease. This ability is one reason why woody plants can live as long as they do. Plants do not have the luxury of movement so they must adapt in place or they will die.
56. Trees that grow in humid areas or near massive water bodies have broad, big leaves. Trees that grow in dry environments have small, hard leaves, which decrease water loss.
57. The parts of a tree that are alive are the root tips, leaves, and the vascular system – the conductive tissue called phloem and xylem (a thin layer under the bark that delivers nutrients and sugars). The tissue that we call “wood” is actually dead cells that simply support structures.
58. Three trees planted in the accurate place around buildings can cut air-conditioning costs up to 50%.
59. Trees in a landscape lower heart rates, relax us and decrease stress.
60. Cottonwood seeds can stay airborne for days, which is much longer than any other type of seed.
61. There are Eucalyptus trees in Hawaii with natural rainbow-colored barks.
62. Fungi establish the network of trees
There is a cultured underground network where all plants share nutrients. Fungi is responsible for moving water, carbon, and some other nutrients among the trees through this system, contingent upon their requirements.
63. Justin Timberlake has a business initiative to figure out his concert’s carbon footprints and pays to have trees planted in those cities to offset carbon impact during his tours.
64. The blackest wood in the world is Ebony.
65. Osage Orange is the wood species that creates the most heat when burned.
66. Olive trees are resistant to droughts, disease, and even fire. In fact, some olive groves can be numerous thousands of years old.
67. Trees can tell if deer are trying to eat them. Due to their ability to sense deer saliva, trees protect themselves by creating excess acids that cause their buds to taste bitter so that the deer will lose interest and leave them alone.
Mother Nature is as much a gift to us as she is our responsibility and as with all gifts, we must treat her with love and care. Her generosity knows no bounds; nor does her wrath when she is slighted and mistreated. For everything that nature gives us, it is our duty to give back and offer protection.
We, at Nelda Foundation, know that the environment is everyone’s responsibility. We’re all global citizens, and we can’t wash our hands off this duty. The earth has done so much for us, and even now continues to do so; it is time we gave back to nature and returned the favor.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “We must become the change we wish to see in the world.” We are all equally responsible for the environment and we can’t keep passing the blame on to the next person. The buck stops here. The earth is screaming for change and we will be the ones to usher in that change. It is time for us to come together and join hands in this noble venture and we at Nelda are here to help you bring about this change.
Do you or your organisation wish to contribute by carrying out tree plantations in and around Pune? Don’t worry, we’re here for you. Just reach out to us at www.nelda.org.in or give us a ring on this number - 9823348087.