The Secret Life of Trees: How They Live and Why They Matter Essay

The Secret Life of Trees: How They Live and Why They Matter Essay

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Trees have fascinated humans for thousands of years and have played a major role in mythologies all over the world, largely because of their utility, longevity, and often impressive stature. Additionally, trees play a major role in the ecology of the Earth by reducing erosion and moderating the climate by removing CO2 from the atmosphere and storing large amounts of carbon in their tissues (Kozlowski 1971). Trees have copious uses for all different types of plants and animals; food, shelter, fuel, and timber being a few of the most common uses. There is no universally recognized precise definition for trees. They are not a distinct taxonomic group, but rather a collection of plant species that have independently evolved similar traits. The most characteristic of these traits is a wooden trunk and branches which are used as a way to tower above other plants. One of the broader definitions of trees classifies them as: “any plants with the general form of an elongated stem or trunk, which supports the photosynthetic leaves or branches some distance above the ground,”(Tokuhisa). More generally, trees are often defined by height, with smaller plants being classified as shrubs, though the minimum height varies widely. Another specification used to differentiate between trees is the presence of a wooden trunk, although this excludes herbaceous trees such as bananas and papayas (What is a tree?). Despite being herbaceous and never producing wood, palms and bamboos may produce a wood-like substance by lignifying cells produced through primary growth, and are able to stay tall and rigid due to cellular water pressure called “turgor” (What is a tree?). Trees exist in two different groups of vascular plants, the gymnosperms and the angiosperm...


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...igh Elevation Treeline Research. Retrieved March 29, 2014, from https://plantecology.unibas.ch/treeline_elevation/
Sexual reproduction in trees. (2014). Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/ad230e/ad230e02.html

Tokuhisa, J. (2012, June). Tree Definition. Retrieved April 29, 2014, from http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/bot00/bot00761.html

Tree evolution. (2014). Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://www.rfs.org.uk/learning/tree-evolution#timeline

Stein, W. E., Mannolini, F., Hernick, L. V., Landing, E., & Berry, C. M. (2007, April 19). Giant cladoxylopsid trees resolve the enigma of the Earth's earliest forest stumps at Gilboa. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v446/n7138/abs/nature05705.html

What is a tree? (2012). Retrieved April 14, 2014, from http://www.as.miami.edu/qr/arboretum/what_is_a_tree.html

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