Friday, September 16, 2016

Goodbye Old Friend

During a heavy storm, a mature deciduous tree can 'drink' a couple of hundred gallons of water, which is funnelled to its roots. This water is stored in the surrounding soil, to help the tree through future dry spells. Trees think ahead.
A single tree contains millions of calories in the form of sugar, cellulose, lignin (which helps to make the structure 'woody') and other carbohydrates. But to insects and birds, a tree isn't so much a grocery store as a guarded warehouse, because the food is surrounded by a thick protective wall of bark. Trees think about security.
Every day in summer, trees release about 29 tons of oxygen into the air per square mile of forest. A person breathes in nearly two pounds of oxygen each day, so that's the daily requirement for tens of thousands of people. Trees don't care about us — but we should care about them. Elms and pines use a different tactic. When an insect eats a leaf, electrical signals travel from the damaged area to the roots — just as human tissue sends pain signals along the nervous system.
It takes at least an hour for the roots to react and unleash the defences, by flowing bitter compounds into the leaf to send the attacker packing. But something even more amazing is also happening: the tree identifies the attacker by its saliva. Armed with this, the tree releases phero-mones to summon specific predators, to prey on the insects. For example, elms and pines call on parasitic wasps that lay their eggs inside leaf-eating caterpillars, condemning them to slow, painful deaths. Trees are prepared to wait for revenge.
The main reason humans cannot perceive how clever and complex they are is because we exist in such short time scales by comparison. There's a tree in Sweden for instance, a spruce, that is more than 9,500 years old. That's 115 times longer than the average human lifespan.
A tree's childhood lasts ten times as long as ours. Activities that take us moments — waking up or stretching our limbs, can last months for a tree.
It's hardly surprising that most of us see trees as practically inanimate, nothing more than objects. But the truth is very different. They are just as intensely alive as we are . . . and for much, much longer.

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source DailyMail UK

Beautiful tree, majestic ash     

How you must have weathered
Storms, times and emotions
Did you miss the woman?
Who owned our house?
That you withered and died
Did something
Kill your spirit and your roots?

How I wish I could seen
You at your best
Though I did try to
Bring you back to life
I shall miss your shade
And the birds and animals you sheltered
But today I bid farewell
To your magnificent height
Strength and presence
May it comfort you that
A tree has been planted in your honour

Goodbye old friend 

©Sheilagh Lee September 16, 2016

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