What is a Tree?
This may seem like an easy question at first. We see trees everywhere and we know what they are when we see them, but what really makes a tree, a tree?
The first part of the description is quite simple. Trees are woody, perennial means they live for many years. However, there are bushes and other plants that fit this description that are not actually trees. There is practically no scientific description of the tree, so most people and books use the rule of thumb.
If a tree is woody, perennial, and over 13 feet tall, it’s a tree. Of course, there will always be bushes and dense canopy, but for the most part, we recognize a tree when we see one.
Types of Trees
Conifers and Evergreens Trees:
Conifers have narrow and stiff leaves called scales or needles. Most of them are evergreen, which means they stay green through the winter and don’t have leaves that turn color and fall during the fall. Conifers are named for their seed-bearing cones. Some examples of conifers include cypress, pine, cedar, fir, and redwood.
Conifers are famous for having the tallest and largest life form. These trees are giant sequoias or redwoods. They can be found in Redwood National Park in California. Giant sequoias grow up to 115 m (379 ft) tall. That tree is taller than the long ball field!
Deciduous and Broadleaf Trees:
Another type of tree is deciduous. Most hardwoods are deciduous, meaning they shed their leaves each fall. The name hardwoods comes from their broad leaves, unlike the thin needles of conifers. These plants also produce flowers. Sometimes the flowers take the form of a fruit or nut that we can normally eat. Some examples of broadleaf trees are oak, beech, maple, elm, and birch.
How do Trees Grow?
As trees age, they become taller, wider, and deeper. Plants grow taller through the growth of new cells at the ends of branches. They also grow deeper as roots in the ground to extract water and nutrients from the soil. The roots grow at the ends like branches. The tree also expands its trunk and branches.
This growth that takes place externally is later called the cambium. Since tree growth stops during the winter or cold months, the trunk develops rings. Each ring represents a year of adulthood. We can know the age of trees by counting their rings.
Other Features of a Trees:
Leaves – The leaves of the plant are important for capturing sunlight for photosynthesis. Some plants have small or narrow leaves, and some have large leaves.
Bark – The bark is the protective, skin-like covering of a tree branch. The bark protects the tree from animals and even disease.
Trees and Humans
Trees have provided people with building materials for homes, furniture, and more throughout human history. Trees are also a great source of fuel like fire to keep warm and cook food. We also collect many plant foods such as fruits and nuts. However, trees are also very important to our environment.
Trees are the main source of oxygen. They breathe and reduce carbon dioxide and in turn deliver oxygen. We cannot live without trees! Above all, trees give us shade and beauty, so remember to hug a tree today!