May 2, 2014

12 Surprising Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Trees.

Tammy T. Stone

“Let me bring you songs from the wood: to make you feel much better than you could know. Dust you down from tip to toe. Show you how the garden grows. Hold you steady as you go. Join the chorus if you can: it’ll make of you an honest man. Let me bring you love from the field: poppies red and roses filled with summer rain. To heal the wound and still the pain” ~ Songs from the Wood, Jethro Tull

It’s hard not to love a tree.

There are many things we already know about trees. How they protect us, give us shade, come in so many shapes and sizes. How they forever inspire with their sky-reaching groundedness. We know that we are losing too many of them, too fast. We increasingly know that, to put it simply, trees matter. There are some things, though, that you may not have known about trees. Some fun facts, if you will.

Did you know:

1. Trees have been used to make drugs like aspirin, ecstasy and some chemotherapy mediations (like Taxol, produced from the Yew tree).

2. Ever knock on wood? You know why? Apparently, primitive pagans used to tap, or knock on trees to summon the protective spirits known to reside inside of them. A tradition worth keeping, in my books!

3. This is not that surprising, but studies have shown that hospital patients suffer less pain and heal more quickly when their windows face trees (so that they might not need the drugs that trees have been used to develop.)

4. In 1971, the Apollo 14 mission included taking seeds to the moon, where “moon trees” were grown.

5. Trees are the longest living organisms on Earth, and they never die of old age.

6. How much oxygen does a family of four need to breathe? Oxygen from two trees.

7. We might be able to attribute the extinction of dinosaurs to the very beginnings (and growth) of tall, woody trees in forests.

8. Trees are very thirsty: they drink around 2000 liters of water each year.

9. In one year, a person emits about 10 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, while one tree removes one ton of the stuff in its long lifetime.

10. Trees are great yogis and literally live on air! It’s said that they absorb 90% of their nutrition from the atmosphere around them, and only 10% from soil (as thirsty as they are).

11. Communicating trees? Yup! It’s been shown that willows, for example, secrete a chemical when attacked by insects, to alert its friends nearby. Said friends produce tannin on their leaves so that the insects can’t get to them.

12. The Giant Sequoia in the Redwood Forest of California is not only the largest tree in the world, but the most gargantuan living being in the whole world. It’s about 30 stories tall, 82.3 feet in circumference and weighs 2.756 tons. Tammy T. Stone

Another fun fact:

January 21 is National Hugging Day, and hugging trees can be just as amazing as hugging a friend or loved one.

People might not always respond to our well-intentioned hugs. Trees always will!

Bonus: 16 of the most magnificent trees in the World

16 of the most magnificent trees in the World


Urban Forests! 

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Editor: Renée Picard

Photos: courtesy Tammy T. Stone

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