They might be a natural wonder, and offer incredible beauty and shade (not to mention our oh-so-important oxygen!) and great fun for the kids – But we’re not just talking about climbing them, or attaching a rope and enjoying a thrilling Tarzan-like ride (although that certainly is fun!) in this post. We’re talking about the fascinating facts about trees that really do make them an amazing and essential part of life.
1. They’re old!
One of the most interesting facts about trees is that some species live to be incredibly old.
How old? How about the oldest living things on all of Planet Earth! So how old is the oldest tree? It’s a bristlecone pine in California’s White Mountains — and it’s more than 5000 years old!
2. They drink … a lot.
Now that might sound like weird information about trees, but thankfully we’re not talking about trees having an alcohol problem!
Just like us, their favourite tipple is actually water — and in a single day, a big tree can be known to guzzle up to 400 litres of the stuff.
3. They save you money
This really is tree information you’ll want to remember!
All that shade is lovely to sit under on a stinking hot day, but did you know that if you plant your cool trees strategically well, you can slash your air conditioning bill by as much as 30%? It also works in the winter, with well planned out trees blocking the winter draft into your place.
4. They’ve been to the moon
Ok, ok, so technically the ‘Moon Trees‘ never actually went to the moon. But the seeds that they grew from certainly did!
Back in 1971, hundreds of tree seeds were taken to the moon aboard Apollo 14. When they got back to Earth, they were germinated and the seedlings were planted all over America and the world. And you know what? Racing through space didn’t hurt the seeds at all, and one of the most famous of the Moon Trees – a Loblolly pine – is standing proudly at the White House.
5. They talk
We know – trees don’t actually talk. But they really do communicate with one another, and with the wider world.
Some of this ‘tree talking’ is done with insects. Sometimes, when a swarm of insects starts attacking, a tree can flood its leaves with chemicals — as if to say ‘Bug off!’ It’s also been shown that other trees can ‘sense’ these interactions, and start the insect-repellent process for themselves.
6. They show you the way
If you’re lost in a forest, and your compass is broken, trees can help guide you home.
Here in the southern hemisphere, look out for moss on one side of the tree but not the other. When you spot this phenomenon, you can bet every dollar that the mossy side of the tree is south — where there is more shade. The rings of a tree will also grow a bit thicker on the north, thanks to the extra sunlight.
7. Knock on wood
No doubt you’ve heard the phrase “knock on wood”, or “touch wood”, a superstitious action to ward off bad luck. did you know it actually comes from ancient times where pagan rituals involved “knocking on wood” to summon the spirits residing inside them.
8. Healing powers
We all know that many life saving drugs are developed from trees, but there’s another way they help heal us according to a hospital study. Patients in rooms with windows looking out to trees and gardens on average, healed a day faster and needed significantly less pain medication that those without a leafy outlook.
Do you know any amazing facts about trees that we haven’t mentioned? Don’t be shy, add some of your own interesting facts about trees in the comments below.