Yesterday’s pictures and Facebook post led me to thinking I should share 10 interesting facts about trees with my peeps. That’d be you if you’re reading this! So here they are in no particular order. I assume I can even come up with 10, if not I might just wing it and make up some stuff (kidding).
1. Did you know that trees are quite different than all other plant species? Unlike herbaceous plants, trees develop a large wooden structure that rises high above the ground. This allows the tree’s canopy (it’s leaves that actually feed the plant and keep it alive), to reach high above other plants, and receive the necessary light it needs in order to survive.
2. In the plant world, trees are the tallest members, the most prominent, and the most permanent. While I wouldn’t say that they are the most important, I will say they add value to your property because they are considered a permanent structure. Of course they must be healthy, in the right location, and have been properly and aesthetically maintained to be of value.
3. Because of their height, trees nurse smaller plants beneath them. Smaller plants benefit from the micro climate-controlled area created by the trees. They also benefit from fallen leaves that decompose, and recycled nutrients around the base of the tree. One more thing, the trees canopy drips for hours after rainfall. This continues to moisten the soil around it’s base, not only benefiting the tree’s roots, but the neighboring plant roots of other lower canopy plants.
4. Trees are typically sold…
5. Leaves have evolved from needles and other appendage like structures that are attached to the wooden scaffold/branches of the tree. Earlier trees that existed were more closely related to our current coniferous species. Trees have evolved and adapted to their environment. In colder, more severe weather areas, trees began shedding their leaves during times of drought, and during the winter. Once the snow melts and weather begins to warm, leaves reemerge enough to resume regular growth rates and development of the tree.
6. Trees in the nursery are sold in several forms.
Street Tree: Typically tall with first limbs up around 6ft or higher
Standard: This one is very common. The term means that the tree looks somewhat like a lollipop or the way that a child draws a tree, with trunk and a head.
Multi Stem: Means just what it says. The tree has a single trunk then splits into typically 3, sometimes more trunks, fairly low from the ground.
Low Branching: Is when the tree develops it’s first branches fairly close to the ground. A tree can have multiple trunks and also be low branching. Conifers are typically sold this way. If the low branches get in the way of the landscape design, they are just sawn or lopped off.
7. Many shrubs and grasses are grown as trees and are often thought of as trees even though they are technically shrubs or grasses. A few examples are Citrus, Crape Myrtle, Palms, and Manzanita just to name a few.
8. The primary difference concerning the use of trees and shrubs in your residential landscape is as follows. Trees should be planted and given space from your house foundation, sidewalks, etc., whereas shrubs can be planted much closer. They will do less damage because their roots don’t grow as large in size. They are far less likely to damage your hardscaping by pushing it up.
9. When trees come from the nursery they are shipped with a nursery stake. This stake aids the nursery grower in shipping the tree. You can and most often should remove this stake once the tree is planted. Otherwise it’s likely to do more damage than good by rubbing against the trunk and preventing branches from developing where the stake is. Proper staking techniques can be found in this YouTube video. I approve of what he’s doing, but might need to shoot my own video soon.
10. Wow! I’m already at #10 and I’m just getting warmed up! So the last couple of things I’ll tell you about trees is that once the tree has reached the same size, or is larger in caliper (trunk thickness) than the stakes, feel free to remove them. The tree will actually sway in the wind a bit, but that’s okay. Every time it sways, the roots are gently stimulated. They will respond by growing even more roots, thereby increasing the foundation and stability of the tree helping it to weather the next storm.
10.5 Sorry, I couldn’t help myself! Whenever you find a fallen or leaning tree, only straighten it and lift it into position once. Gather your guy wire, tree stakes, and straps. Then fix the tree once, remembering not to make the stake or bracing so tight that the tree can’t sway a bit. Think of it like a brace or cast on your leg. If you wore your brace too long and too tight, you’d never become a strong track runner. Your tree needs to sway and be challenged a bit in the wind in order to develop it’s root system in the same way that your body needs movement to develop your muscles. The stakes or braces are merely to keep it from being toppled completely.
So there you have it, 10.5 great facts about trees you can use the next time you consider planting or staking your tree. The weather will warm up in the next few months and you’ll likely be able to put this information to good use. One final thank you to my photographer and friend Tim Engle for the feature image on this post. This is just one of many amazing outdoor images he has collected. Don’t just take my word for it though, click the link and see for yourself.