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Why is it beneficial for trees to grow that tall?


Why is it beneficial for trees to grow that tall?

This sounds like a kid's questionMom, Dad… why are trees so tall?

Costs and Benefits

There are some obvious costs:

  • Need much Carbon and other nutrients
  • maintenance cost
  • energy cost (for growing, to bring water (and nutrients) up to the higher leaves, etc… )
  • Sensitivity to wind
  • etc…

Potential benefits I can think of:

  • Competition for sunlight
  • Better dispersal
  • protection against predation
  • Some birds (maybe especially those that are potentially good seed dispersers) prefer to land on high trees (avoiding the cost of regaining altitude). Being high attract these birds which eat the fruits and disperse the seeds.

Are there other potential benefits?

Specific to palm trees

I am currently in Bali, Indonesia looking at palm trees that seem to have a very low competition for sun light (the forest is not dense, the light is intense), there are no tall predators (but being tall might be a protection against climbing predators as well and there are indeed monkeys and other potential climbing predators) and looking at coconuts, papaya and banana I can hardly think that being tall helps to disperse further away (seeds dispersal by barochory). So, why (evolutionary reasons) are palm trees so high?


Beside the reasons you've given I would add environmental disturbance (e.g. flooding) as a evolutionary factor that could explain selection for taller individuals. Many palms also inhabit and thrive in disturbed habitats (Frangi & Lugo, 1998; Salm, 2005), which indicates that this could potentially (i.e. speculative) be an important factor for this taxon. Palms also have the combination of tall height and a relatively low "wind profile" (relative to many other groups of trees), which indicates that they are adapted to exposed/disturbed habitats.

This, along with the reasons you've already given, seems to cover the most obvious evolutionary reasons for selection on tree height. However, these will naturally trade-off against negative effects on e.g. fecundity from investing and maintaining biomass.


The height of tree species varies, of course, as each tree fills a given niche, much like animals do; you might as well ask why blue whales grow so big. The answer, of course, is that they seek out and successfully get the nutrients they require. It is advantageous for some trees to be huge and get the most sunlight possible and so some trees do.

In the specific case of palm trees, however, they aren't true trees but rather a grass, which means they are a monocot and (I'm a little shaky on plant physiology but… ) that the outside isn't living but the inside is. Monocots grow straight up, in one main shoot, and palm tree follow the same pattern. Tons of sunlight, nothing to come mow or it down, and nowhere to go but up means they'll be big. True trees, on the other hand, have what is called heartwood in the center, which is technically dead tissue.

Another thing to think about is that trees aren't moving, so they only way they can improve their condition is by growth. An animal, on the other hand, can migrate to follow food; growth, particularly for mammals, also has a huge heat cost.


Coniferous Forest Biome

Coniferous forests can be found throughout the world, but don’t let their commonness fool you. They contain some of world’s most extreme trees. The world’s tallest tree, a coastal redwood named Hyperion, reaches up to 379 feet—as tall as a 35-story building. A giant sequoia named General Sherman isn’t quite as tall as Hyperion but it is the world’s largest tree, clocking in at around 2.5 million pounds—as much as eight blue whales combined! The world’s single oldest tree is a Great Basin bristlecone pine, dating back more than 5,000 years—almost as old as my grandma.

Coniferous forests grow in a wide range of climates, from the coldest polar regions to the warmest tropical regions and everything in between. The reason they’re so prevalent worldwide is because they take advantage of certain environmental conditions that other trees aren’t able to live in as well. As a result, they can look a lot different from other types of biomes.


How close can you plant trees to a house, anyway?

This question all comes down to tree size. After all, the wide-root oak tree that’s 70 feet tall needs much more room than the modest Japanese maple.

A good rule of thumb is to start at about 8 to 10 feet away from your home for small trees and scale up to account for the tree’s mature height and spread.

Worst Trees to Plant Near a House

The trees on this short list are deemed the worst because of their widespread, invasive roots. These are just the top offenders, though!

Once you find a tree you like, do a little research to see how fast growing and destructive their roots could be.

  • White ash (Zones 2-9): A fast-growing shade tree with invasive, lateral roots that’s also susceptible to emerald ash borer!
  • Poplar (Zones 3-8): A tall tree with aggressive roots known for causing sewer and foundational damage
  • American elm (Zones 3-9): A full tree that has shallow roots that can disrupt your lawn, sidewalk or driveway
  • Silver maple (Zones 3-9): A tree with gorgeous, shimmery leaves that also has roots that often end up growing above the ground
  • Weeping willow (zones 6-8): A large shade tree that commonly invades sewer lines
  • Oak (Zones 8-10): A fast-growing, beloved tree notorious for causing foundational damage

Best Trees to Plant Near a House

These trees make the list because of their non-invasive roots or low-maintenance cleanup. Plus, it helps that they’re all beautiful trees!

  • Crabapple (Zones 3-8): A short, flowering tree that matures at about 20 feet tall. Be sure to pick a disease-resistant tree to avoid headaches later!
  • American hornbeam (zones 3-9): A slow-growing member of the birch family that’s small in size
  • Cornelian-cherry dogwood (Zones 4-7): An excellent small tree that puts on the best possible show of flowers when planted in front of a dark background
  • Japanese maple (zones 5-8): A popular scarlet-colored tree that’s ideal for planting at a curbside location or near a patio
  • Flowering dogwood (Zones 5-8): A delicate, flowering tree great for planting near walls
  • American holly (zones 5-9): A popular evergreen tree that’s low-maintenance


Growth of Plants

From Seeds

Plants grow from seeds, because the seeds contain within themselves an embryonic plant and stored food. The seed is a result of pollination, where the ripened ovule is protected by the seed coat, an outer covering of the ovule. Basically, the seed contains the whole immature plant (roots and leaves), the seed’s leaves are called the cotyledons a seed with one leaf is known as monocotyledonous or monocots, while a two-leaved seed is known as dicotyledonous or dicots. For a seed to germinate, right conditions such as quality of the endosperm (food within the seed), moisture, temperature, humidity, light, and quality of the nutrients in the soil, all come in play.

In the Dark

To most of us this may seem strange, for we have been schooled in the thought that plants need sunlight to grow. Which is quite right. Some may grow in shade, some indoors, but they all need light, full, partial, or diffused. Plants follow the principle of phototropism, which means that their growth is determined by the direction of the light source. Here, even the concept of gravitropism (gravity), also known as geotropism comes to play, the plant shoots exhibit positive phototropism (growth towards light) and negative gravitropism (defying gravity by shooting upwards), while the roots exhibit exactly the opposite negative phototropism and positive gravitropism.

When seeds are sown, ‘keep it in a dark place’ is generally a common instruction, but by dark one never means absolute dark, it just refers to keeping the seeds away from direct sunlight. Plants need a source of light to grow, to produce their food through the process of photosynthesis. If plants do not receive light, they will not be able to produce chlorophyll, eventually losing their green color and they will die. This rule also applies to plants that have different colored leaves too. Some plants may grow in the dark, but they are equipped to source their light from the atmosphere. Try a simple experiment at home, take a small plant and keep it in dark, one may have to cover it, and see for yourself, in a few days your plant will wither and die.

In the Ocean

For plants to grow in the ocean they do need sunlight, in fact, all marine life is dependent upon the light and the process of photosynthesis. Sunlight penetrates the ocean up to a thousand meters. It is up to 100 meters in depth that receives a good amount of sunlight, this place is called the euphotic zone, while below that till 1000 meters receives diffused sunlight, and is known as disphotic zone. The layer where no light penetrates is called the aphotic zone.

Basically there are two types of plants found in the ocean ones with roots that grow on the ocean bed, and rootless ones that float about with the water. The ones that float receive all the light they need directly for photosynthesis as they are on the surface of the water, whereas the ones that are rooted are found only in shallow waters in the euphotic zone. No plants are found below this zone as there is not enough sunlight to maintain photosynthesis in deeper waters. Besides sunlight and water (which they have in plenty), marine plants such as phytoplankton, algae, seaweed, kelp, etc., draw carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon from carbon dioxide is needed for photosynthesis.

In Water

Plants have been growing in water and without soil for years now. It is only in the past decade the concept has caught on. Most epiphytic, parasitic, and symbiotic plants do not need soil to grow, but find other mediums to ensure a steady flow of nutrients. The principles of hydroponic gardening are applied to grow plants in water. All nutrients required by a plant are provided through the water, by the way of fertilizer application combined with sunlight they receive, plants have no trouble surviving. Another method is the aeroponic gardening here the plants are suspended in air and their roots are kept moistened with nutrient-rich water. This method is being extensively studied for the purpose of commercial agriculture, especially for places where soil conditions are poor.

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Exploration of space brings to mind whether plants will be able to grow in space or not. Plants haven’t been found growing on Mars or Venus, but they are being grown in space shuttles. A specialized chamber called ‘Advanced Astroculture’ a.k.a. ADVASC or a container called Biomass production is used for this process. This chamber is experimentally controlled to provide the plants with water and a supply of carbon dioxide to help them in their own food production through photosynthesis.

I hope this article has helped you understand the growth mechanism of plants a little better, if you do know more, share it with me.

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What does topping a tree mean?

Tree topping is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when you cut the top of a tree off, which reduces the tree’s remaining top branches to stumps. As a result, your tree is left with weak, unstable limbs and a bare, unnatural appearance. Also, your tree is much more prone to breaking and may be a risk hazard.

Why do people top trees?

Here are the biggest reasons people choose to top trees. They want to:

Fix trees that interfere with electrical wires.

Shorten trees that grow too tall near their home.

Prevent the tall tree from coming down in a storm.

These are all good reasons to take action and care for your tree, but tree topping is not the way to do it.

How is topping harmful to trees?

Tree topping hurts trees in four, major ways.

You remove lots of leaves, which strips away the tree’s food source.

The remaining shortened limbs provide easy access to decay, insects and disease.

The tree is forced to quickly grow new limbs that are often too weak to handle storms.

New branches eventually grow to the original height of the tree, restarting the unsafe cycle.

In the long-run, topping a tree can prove to be a costly mistake. The tree will either need extra care to stay alive or will eventually need to be removed.

Is there a good way to top trees? What’s an alternative to topping?

Yes, great question! When you prune a tree correctly, you reduce the tree’s height and keep it healthy! Ask your local arborist what branches you can trim to safely shorten your tree.

And when planting a new tree, look up! Be sure you’re not planting under a tall structure that the tree could grow into when it reaches its mature height. If you are, find a new spot.


Tree physics determine leaf size

Leaves do not grow indefinitely. At a certain point they reach a given size and then stop growing.

So far scientists have not known why this is so.

Now a Danish researcher at Harvard University has found out what determines the limit of how large leaves can grow.

It turns out that the height of the tree is the determining factor.

&ldquoWe have studied 2,000 different types of trees and found a link between the tree&rsquos height and how large or small their leaves can get,&rdquo says biophysicist Kaare Hartvig Jensen, who works as a postdoc at Harvard.

&ldquoFor instance, a ten-metre tall tree can have leaves that range between one millimetre and one metre in length. A 100-metre tall tree can only have leaves that range between 10 and 20 centimetres in length.&rdquo

The discovery is published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Physics limit leaf size

The link between the size of the tree and the leaves, the new theory states, is associated with the flow of energy-rich sugars in the trees&rsquo vascular system.

That’s why 100-metre tall trees have a lower leaf size limit of 10 cm, while 10-metre tall trees with less resistance in the trunk can make do with tiny leaves of around a millimetre.

All the sugar is produced in the tree&rsquos leaves. It then flows out to the other parts of the tree, such as the trunk and the roots, each of which consumes around a third of the tree&rsquos combined sugar production.

When the tree transports sugar through the leaves and the trunk, some physical factors come into play.

&rdquoThe tree&rsquos vascular network contains two forms of resistance &ndash one in the trunk and one in the leaf. The trunk&rsquos resistance is directly proportional to the height, while the leaf&rsquos resistance is inversely proportional to the length of the leaf,&rdquo explains Jensen.

Simply stated, this means that the taller the tree, the more energy is needed to transport the sugar around the tree. For the leaf, on the other hand, the longer it gets, the less the resistance, and the faster it can transport the sugar down to the trunk.

Taller trees have more uniform leaf sizes

Jensen used these physical factors to create a physical model of the limits to the leaf size at a given tree size.

For trees that are e.g. 100 metres tall, it doesn&rsquot make sense for the tree to produce leaves longer than 20 cm.

Longer leaves would not increase the efficiency and the speed of the sugar transport as the tall tree&rsquos resistance in the trunk sets the limit for the transport speed and efficiency.

A ten-metre tree has a lot less resistance in the trunk, which is why it&rsquos useful for these trees to carry leaves that are up to a metre in length, as they provide great transport efficiency.

The lower size limits of leaves

The same physical properties apply at the other end of the size spectrum.

Here, leaf size needs to be sufficiently large for the strength of its pumping mechanism to make a difference in relation to the trunk resistance.

If the leaf is too small, the sugar simply travels too slowly around the tree.

&rdquoThat&rsquos why 100-metre tall trees have a lower leaf size limit of 10 cm, while 10-metre tall trees with less resistance in the trunk can make do with tiny leaves of around a millimetre.&rdquo

Tree&rsquos maximum height also determined by physics

The curves for maximum and minimum leaf size converge as trees grow taller.

This could well be the reason why trees cannot grow beyond a certain height.

Jensen&rsquos formula predicts that at exactly 106 metres, close to the height of the tallest trees, these curves cross. According to the theory, if a tree were taller than this, no leaf size could meet its vascular requirements.

The tallest trees with &lsquoreal&rsquo leaves are eucalyptus trees. They can grow up to 100-110 metres high with leaves between 10 and 30 cm.


Trees for Tight Spaces

Most people have an inborn need to connect with nature. But how do we make this connection in a world where houses are getting bigger and yards are getting smaller? Part of the answer, at least, is by creating gardens in the small allotment of tight spaces outdoors that so many of us have to work with. Even larger properties have small nooks, which seem like impossible spots to plant. But a narrow side yard, a lifeless courtyard, or an uninviting roof deck are all golden opportunities for a petite green space.

Small-space gardeners often encounter three basic problems: The space is jumbled and chaotic, there’s no room for variety, and the space doesn’t connect to the rest of the landscape. And as some of us have learned from dismal experience, it is better to address as many of these issues early in the game rather than late in the design process.

Small, slow-growing trees—those having all the attributes of larger ones but remaining in scale with an undersize environment—can form the backbone of small garden spaces. By carefully selecting the correct trees, a dull, wasted space can be transformed into a refuge. Luckily, today’s gardeners have a wide array of slow-growing dwarf and semi-dwarf trees that require little or no maintenance yet provide year-round interest with unusual color, shape, texture, bark, flowers, fruit, or cones.

Organize a small space with tall, airy trees

When we enter a space, particularly a small or intimate space, we tend to look first horizontally, then vertically. Instinctively, we check—if only for an instant—to make sure we aren’t going to trip or misstep on something. This means it is important to keep a small space organized and not let things get too jumbled on the ground or across the field of vision.

One solution is to plant trees with an open habit: those that allow the viewer to see them and see through them at the same time. Open, airy trees act like transparent curtains, adding structure that can organize a small space into rooms or areas of interest and helping us navigate through the space.

A contorted, upright tree like ‘Diana’ weeping larch is strong enough visually to work as an accent and bold enough to separate a space, yet remains open to what lies beyond it. ‘Diana’ will eventually reach a height well above eye level, and although it has foliage down to the ground, it won’t act as a solid wall, blocking off the rest of the garden. This deciduous conifer has year-round interest, with pendulous, needled branches draping gracefully in summer turning bright golden orange in fall before dropping and exposing a contorted, branching silhouette in winter. It reemerges with soft, tufted, lime green needles in spring.

‘Diana’ weeping larch
Name: Larix kaempferi ‘Diana’
Zones: 5 to 7
Size: 8 to 15 feet tall and wide
Conditions: Full sun well-drained soil

‘Tamukeyama’ Japanese maple
Name: Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Tamukeyama’
Zones: 5 to 8
Size: Up to 7 feet tall and wide
Conditions: Partial shade moist, well-drained soil

A deciduous tree with similar characteristics is ‘Tamukeyama’ Japanese maple. Through the growing season, ‘Tamukeyama’ maintains a consistent dark purple color better than most red Japanese maples, even in high heat and humidity. In fall, the leaves flame out to a breathtaking bright scarlet. I also like ‘Tamukeyama’ because it takes well to staking, which creates additional interest with a more open, irregular structure. As with most Japanese maples, consistency in watering is more important than volume for optimal health.

‘Twisted Growth’ deodar cedar

‘Twisted Growth’ deodar cedar
Name: Cedrus deodara ‘Twisted Growth’
Zones: 6 to 9
Size: 8 to 15 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide
Conditions: Full sun well-drained soil

Some trees ideally suited for this situation are ‘Twisted Growth’ deodar cedar and ‘Hillside Upright’ spruce. The deodar cedar has distinctive slender silver-green needles. Its branches casually droop, carving arches in the skyline. This elegant tree is drought tolerant once established in well-drained soils.

‘Hillside Upright’ spruce
Name: Picea abies ‘Hillside Upright’
Zones: 3 to 8
Size: 10 to 12 feet tall and 6 to 8 feet wide
Conditions: Full sun moist, well-drained soil

The sturdy, open, lush foliage of ‘Hillside Upright’ spruce makes it a good back­drop for a smaller garden. This tree has truly unique, irregular branching. These trees, with their narrow, twisting branches, pull the eye up, expanding the sense of space.

‘Cesarini Blue’ limber pine

‘Cesarini Blue’ limber pine
Name: Pinus flexilis ‘Cesarini Blue’
Zones: 3 to 7
Size: 10 to 12 feet tall and 5 to 7 feet wide
Conditions: Full sun well-drained soil

For a denser upright tree that provides a bit of narrow screening, a good choice is ‘Cesarini Blue’ limber pine. If left unstaked, this tree forms a lyrical, curving leader. Alternatively, it can be kept much smaller and denser with annual pruning. ‘Cesarini Blue’ is reasonably drought tolerant once established in well-drained soils and provides an ideal focal point with its long, strikingly blue needles.

For a deciduous selection, a narrow tree like ‘Cumulus’ Alleghany serviceberry will successfully add variety to your space-conscious landscape. ‘Cumulus’ is an open upright tree, taller than it is wide, producing showy white flowers in spring, purple edible fruit in midsummer, and dramatic orange-red leaves in fall.

‘Cumulus’ Alleghany serviceberry
Name: Amelanchier laevis ‘Cumulus’
Zones: 5 to 9
Size: 15 to 25 feet tall and 10 to 15 feet wide
Conditions: Full sun to partial shade moist, well-drained, acidic soil

The downside of placing big trees in small spaces

Take a drive around your neighbor­hood and you’ll inevitably see plants that are overstepping their boundaries: a large tree shoved against a foundation, a huge shrub growing into the adjoining yard. Aside from being unsightly, these scenarios can also cause a negative environmental impact. Here’s why.

They need more water
Large trees in a small space have overly compacted roots, so they require a tremendous amount of excess water.

They get sick
Forcing a plant into an unnaturally confined space causes stress, which encourages disease and leads some gardeners to use chemicals to solve the situation.

They need to be cut back often
Eventually, a big tree will outgrow its spot and, despite regular pruning, will need to be cut down—making you and the tree unhappy.

Tie the landscape together with short, squat trees

Another problem commonly encountered when designing small spots is finding a way to provide low, space-conscious structure with trees that carry the bulk of their mass below eye level. These trees are often important in tying together the landscape and connecting it to water features, garden art, and hardscaping. Their low visual center of gravity—typically from squat or weeping shapes—makes this possible. An additional advantage to these smaller trees is that they often are the easiest and best varieties for growing in containers. Their smaller stature aboveground translates to smaller root requirements below ground.

‘Green Prince’ cedar
Name: Cedrus libani ‘Green Prince’
Zones: 6 to 9
Size: 3 to 5 feet tall and wide
Conditions: Full sun to partial shade well-drained soil

One of my favorites for this tight situation is ‘Green Prince’ cedar. A natural bonsai, this quirky little tree takes many forms. With short, medium green needles and dramatic, irregular branching, some specimens grow up and others grow out, but all look attractive. ‘Green Prince’ cedar is a low-maintenance, high-impact small tree wherever you plant it.

‘Viridis’ Japanese maple. Photo: Danielle Sherry

‘Viridis’ Japanese maple
Name: Acer palmatum var. dissectum ‘Viridis’
Zones: 5 to 8
Size: 4 to 6 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide
Conditions: Full sun to partial shade moist, well-drained soil

Trees with a strong weeping nature anchor small gardens. A good example is ‘Viridis’ Japanese maple. The name ‘Viridis’ is used for many green laceleaf maples but always refers to a tree with narrow, deeply cut, bright green foliage. The branching is arching, pendulous, and dense, forming a low, compact, rounded dome. These trees can be as much as 8 to 12 feet tall and wide but are more commonly found in the 3-to-4-foot range. ‘Viridis’ can grow in full sun (if not too hot) and turns a beautiful golden hue in fall.

Lavender Twist ® redbud
Name: Cercis canadensis ‘Covey’
Zones: 5 to 9
Size: 8 to 10 feet tall and wide, if staked or grafted into a standard
Conditions: Full sun to partial shade moist, well-drained soil

Another weeping beauty is Lavender Twist ® redbud. The branching structure of this tree starts off horizontally and then cascades in a tight, overlapping pattern right down to the ground (creating an ideal tent or fort for imaginative youngsters). Pinkish purple flowers cover the branches in early spring before the emergence of heart-shaped green leaves. Fall color is yellow to golden bronze. Lavender Twist® also has a contorted branch structure, which gives it some winter interest.

With the right small trees as a foun­dation, even the most disorganized and unimaginative, cramped space can be transformed into a unique garden sanctuary.

David Leckey is the owner of Oregon Small Trees Nursery in Wilsonville, Oregon.

Photos, except where noted: Ancil Nance

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Reason #4: Your Money Tree Isn’t Getting the Right Amount of Light

One of the most important resources a plant needs is sunlight. Without it, the plant cannot properly photosynthesize and create glucose: the energy needed for new growth.

Money Trees like bright indirect sunlight. They can tolerate areas with less light, but they’ll need an adequate amount to thrive and grow. When a Money Tree doesn’t have enough bright light, it will extend itself out in search of more. This uses up energy that is normally reserved for healthy new growth. The result of this is a gangly, leggy Money Tree.

If you’re noticing yellowing or wilting leaves, or a stretched out plant with small leaves, too little light might be your problem.

On the opposite end is giving your plant too much light. Money Trees should never be placed in direct sunlight, and doing so can result in scorched or burnt leaves. If you have exposed your Money Tree to too much sunlight, you may notice brown marks on the leaves.

When a plant has been through stress, like scorched leaves from direct sunlight, it has to use its energy to heal. This takes away energy from new growth and can be why your Money Tree isn’t growing.

HOW TO GET IT GROWING AGAIN

Ideally, a Money Tree should be placed near a window with a lot of bright, indirect sunlight. Notice that I said near and not against. It is essential that your Money Tree is not exposed to direct sun shining on its leaves. Placing a Money Tree three or four feet away from a south-facing window can be an excellent location.

If you suspect that your Money Tree is suffering because of its lighting conditions, try moving it to a different area. You will need to be careful when doing this, though, because plants are sensitive to changes.

If you live in an area where you cannot provide enough light to keep your Money Tree happy year-round, consider adding a grow light to your home. Grow lights are an excellent option for rooms with very little natural light and can be purchased for as little as $20. For more information on the best grow lights for houseplants, click here.


White Oak Trees

The White Oak tree also known as Quercus alba is native to North America. White oak trees can also be found growing in regions of Europe, Asia, and North Africa.

White oaks are deciduous or evergreen trees. The bark of the white oak tree is light gray and scaly. They are enormous trees that have thick trunks with crowns that are irregular in shape. The branches of these trees easily spread over a vast area.

The crowns of white oaks are pyramid shape when they are young but become broad and irregular as they age. The height of white oaks ranges from 60 feet – 100 feet in height. The trunk of the white oak tree can grow up to 4 feet in width.

Apart from the forest region, white oaks can be found growing near lakes, ponds, and streams. The leaves of the white oak tree have 5 - 9 rounded lobes and are about 4 - 9 inches long. The leaves of white oak trees turn red or brown during fall.

The White Oak trees provide shelter for many small animals in winter because the leaves often stay on even after they are dead and fall off during early spring.

The male flowers are greenish yellow in color and arranged in the form of catkins. The female flowers are small reddish spikes. The acorns of the white oaks are about an inch long and have a warty cap that covers only the top quarter of the corn.


Reasons Living Trees Are Valuable

Steve Nix is a member of the Society of American Foresters and a former forest resources analyst for the state of Alabama.

Treehugger / Alexandra Cristina Nakamura

At the very beginning of our human experience, trees were considered sacred and honorable: Oaks were worshiped by the European druids, redwoods were a part of American Indian ritual, and baobabs were a part of African tribal life. Ancient Greeks, Romans, and scholars during the Middle Ages venerated trees in their literature. Dryads and tree nymphs (tree spirits) were important characters in many ancient Greek myths.

In more modern times, naturalist John Muir and President Theodore Roosevelt valued the wilderness, including trees, for its own sake, as they established the modern conservation movement and the National Park System and National Park Service. The modern human community values forests for their calming influence, as evidenced by the Japanese-influenced practice of "forest bathing" or "forest therapy." And people today have other, very practical reasons to admire and honor trees.