York Region Arborist
For most of us, trees are pleasant things that provide shade in the summer, have beautiful foliage in the fall, and cause extra yard work when they shed their leaves. We know they get their energy from sunlight and absorb carbon dioxide. However, there is more to these gentle giants that make them amazing life forms, as these four fascinating facts reveal:
- Old trees grow faster than young trees. Unlike most animals, which do their growing early in life and then stop, trees do the reverse. The older they get, the faster they grow. Although trees eventually stop growing taller, their trunks and branches continue growing wider. This accelerated growth also means they're pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere at an accelerated rate. This is a strong argument for preserving old trees.
- Most of a tree's bulk comes from water and air. With energy provided by the sun, trees break apart carbon from carbon dioxide and recombine it with water to form the cellulose that makes up its wood. About 90% of their "food" comes from the atmosphere while the rest come from the soil.
- Some trees communicate with each other. For example, when insects attack willows and poplars, the trees produce more of certain types of chemicals in their leaves that make them less edible. They also emit chemicals that trigger surrounding trees to produce less edible leaves.
- Most of the bulk of a tree is dead. For most trees, only about one percent of it is alive. The living parts are the root tips, leaves, and a thin layer just under the bark called the phloem, which consists of vascular tissue that transports moisture, sugars, and other metabolic substances.