Whether it be a venerable oak; buckled and warped against the strains of time, standing resolute and defiant in the court grounds of some gentrified estate, or it be a delicate bonsai tree; pruned and preened as a minature work of art, resting daintily on a bontanist’s shelf; trees are a wonderous piece of mother nature.
That being the case; how much do you actually know about these perennial woody plants? Check out these five facts to swell your tree knowledge.
1. Give us a big hug – The largest tree on the planet (by trunk volume) is the Giant Sequoia affectionately named “General Sherman”. It is by no means the tallest and neither does it possess the thickest trunk base; yet it claims the title of “the biggest tree in the world” due to the trunk volume. Located in the Redwood Forest of California; it stands 279.4 feet tall and would take about 15 tree-huggers to successfully hug the entire circumference of the trunk.
2. Pssst, I need to tell you something – Forget Lord of the Rings and grumbling ent-folk; you certainly don’t need to create a fantasy realm to have trees communicating with each other. When willows are having their trunks feasted on by webworms and caterpillars, they emit a chemical that alerts nearby willow trees of the danger. This allows the pre-warned trees to begin pumping more tannin into their leaves in an effort to make them more difficult to digest by the insects. Other than that, they simply have to keep their twigs crossed and hope that the little pests keep away.
3. What a load of old nuts – A fully grown oak in England can shed around 250,000 leaves and produce around 50,000 acorns in a good year.
4. Deeply rooted – In 1974, in the Kalahari Desert a Shepherd’s Tree (that’s the common name for the tree species; the tree did not belong to a desert shepherd) was found to have roots that extended to 68 metres deep. To put that into an abstract context; 68 metres is the length of nearly 4 bendy-buses.
5. Breath of fresh air – An acre of trees removes up to 2.6 tons of CO2 each year; that’s around the weight of 40,667 snickers bars.