Scientists announced this month the discovery of the world’s tallest tropical tree! This was in Borneo by a team from the Universities of Oxford and Nottingham. They estimate the tree weighs around 82 tonnes and is just over 100 metres.
This giant meranti tree is so large that it can sustain its own ecosystem of more than 1,000 types of fungi, insects and plants. What a star of a tree!
For winged pollinators, the window of flowering is short. One can go past most trees with blossoms at this time and hear the buzz of bees. Famous in Japan are the sakura trees (cherry blossom) which bring in many tourists.
One can see how they inspired Japanese artists e.g. Hokusai.
Pine trees have excellent adaptations for winter. Their needs are thin with a small surface area and covered with a waxy substance called cutin. This prevents water from evaporating in summer and prevents freezing in winter.
It is also interesting to note that the volatile organic compounds that escape these needles are converted to aerosols when coming in contact with oxygen. These aerosols help form clouds which help hinder direct sunlight reaching the planet to maintain the heat balance.
Since the residents of Sheffield took to the streets to slow down an over-zealous council from removing multiples trees, there has been more awareness growing of the benefit these large urban organisms provide for us.
As the last post for the year, we would also like to wish you a merry Christmas and a great festive season. As a last thought for the year, we also ask you to think about what your relationship to Nature is, and what this means for how you will act in the world.
Nature is the law of balance in action. After fresh growth and longer days of light, plants and trees prepare for colder weather. Deciduous trees save the energy maintenance of keeping leaves alive which would otherwise have less photosynthesis in conditions of a light deficit. They withdraw nutrients and through the chemical reactions of sugars and tannins the leaves turn colour and fall. Metabolism slows and the roots become more dormant in the cold. This is actually a good time to plant a tree, as the tree has less demand for nutrients and water, and is less shocked by a new environment.
While humans scramble for layers of clothing and turn on heating in their homes, trees stand naked in the chill, with hardy specimens handling temperatures down to – 70 °C through the production of proteins that allows the space between cells to freeze, rather than the cells themselves. These temperature decreases are also good for killing pests and disease that would harm trees.
With the increasingly unpredictable temperature fluctuations and the increase in milder winters in some parts of the world, trees have less time to adapt. This will result in the death of more species due to periods of extreme cold, as well as to pests and disease from milder winters. More adaptable trees and exotic species will also migrate to new areas, as new habitable regions appear for them. In years to come we will see there has been a large shift in species migration.
As the scientific evidence begins to mount, much of it points to the old adage of when feeling down to go take a stroll in the woods. Being in close proximity to trees has shown positive effects on mental illness, ADHD, concentration levels, depression and reaction times. This has been written about by Matthew Silverstone in Blinded by Science (2011), where he looks at various aspects of Nature and the interaction with human mind and body. Essentially, tree hugging is not so laughable with the studies showing measurable decreases in the symptoms of stress. Also expanded upon in the book is that children benefit greatly from being around green plants, showing improved cognitive and emotional function, as well as creativity. If we take a step back, is this so surprising? We have spent far more of our evolutionary history in natural environments compared to our modern homes and offices. Our genome does not forget that easily.
On another beautiful day of this British summer, a group of young adults arrived ready with filled water bottles and lots of enthusiasm to plant 30 silver birches in Roundwood Park. The fundraising for this campaign had been successfully completed by this group, who named themselves Team Emeke. This is an ongoing partnership with Teratrees and the National Citizen Service (NCS). One of Teratrees’ objectives is to connect future generations with Nature, and today it was successfully accomplished, along with some urban greening!
Team Emeke of the NCS – The Challenge
Surveying the morning’s work of planted silver birches
One of the local park snails is up for investigation!
But the team is getting hungry!
Job done, time to celebrate!
Many thanks to the Veolia team of Roundwood Park for their support.
On Friday a group of young adults got their hands dirty and transformed a rockery in Roundwood Park in London. This was not easy going with hard soils from the heat wave, but with a bit of persistence and team effort an array of colour and variety was introduced, with apparent satisfaction from this team participating in The Challenge, as apart of the National Citizen Service (NCS).
Teratrees is a partner organisation for the NCS, with our objective of connecting young people with nature and greening London landscapes.