When was the last time you thought about how awesome trees are? Sure, we all dream about constructing the ultimate treehouse. And, yes, trees do that whole photosynthesis thing, which is eight kinds of cool—as is preventing erosion, moderating ecosystems, and providing materials for energy and shelter. But, as these five facts will show you, there’s so much more to appreciate and learn about the gentle giants of our forests, or, as in the photo above, a beach on India’s Andaman Islands.
(Photo: PitGreenwood/Flickr via Getty)
They ‘Talk’ to Each Other
Did you know that certain types of trees warn each other when they’re under siege by insects? Since the late 1970s, researchers have studied this phenomenon in willows and poplars. Collectively, they’ve found that trees infested with insects will produce an excess of chemicals in their leaves. These chemicals not only reduce the nutritional value of the leaves for the insects, but also warn neighboring trees. Following the warning, nearby trees will begin to produce the same chemicals, defending themselves from a similar attack.
(Photo: Mieke Dalle/Getty Images)
They’re Cheap and Natural Recyclers
Trees are all-mighty recyclers. They regulate our air quality through photosynthesis, absorbing nearly a ton of CO2 in a lifetime and produce about 260 pounds of oxygen a year. Now they are being used to recycle waste. Willow trees are used in Enkoping, Sweden, to clean sewage sludge, reuse wastewater, and recycle liquid from landfills. The town spreads its waste around the trees, which, in turn, decompose and recycle it. Enkoping capitalizes on the faster-growing trees by harvesting them for “biomass [electricity] production.”
(Photo: Philip and Karen Smith/Getty Images)
They Save You Money
Mature trees that are “properly placed around buildings” can protect a household from excessive exposure to the sun or wind. According to the U.S. Forest Service, such tree cover can conserve air conditioning use by 30 percent and heating use by 20 to 30 percent. But wait, there’s more! The Service also states that “healthy, mature trees add an average of 10 percent to a property’s value.” Sounds like a win-win.
(Photo: Getty Images)
Trees Prevent Crime
From 2005 to 2007, the U.S. Forest Service studied the correlation of crime and the presence of trees in Portland, Oregon. They found that areas with larger trees experienced less crime than those with smaller ones. The study concluded that trees serve as a symbolic safety net. Neighborhoods and houses with large trees are assumed to be better kept and protected than those without them. Furthermore, they speculated that smaller trees provide better cover for criminals seeking to sneak up on a residence.
(Photo: Stock4B/Getty Images)
They’re Just As Stressed As We Are
Trees are very sensitive to their environments. The disruption of an ecosystem—whether caused by man or nature—can greatly stress a tree. In urban environments, poor soil quality, overcrowded tree planters, and competition for water between different plants are the most common stressors to trees. If not treated, such stress can inhibit a tree’s growth or photosynthesis cycle. So, the next time you see a stressed tree, help it out! Keep your soil nutrient-rich and give your trees plenty of space to breath.