- Trees can communicate: Trees have a complex underground network of fungi known as mycorrhizal networks, which allow them to communicate and share resources with other trees. They can send chemical and electrical signals through these networks to warn each other about threats such as insect attacks.
- Trees can “talk” to each other: Some tree species, like the African baobab tree, have the ability to produce low-frequency sounds. These sounds, which are below the threshold of human hearing, can carry through the trunk and branches, allowing trees to communicate with each other over long distances.
- Trees can change genders: There are tree species, such as the jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), that can change their gender. These trees start as males and can become females later in their life. This phenomenon is known as “sequential hermaphroditism.”
- Trees have a sense of touch: Trees have specialized cells called “mechanoreceptors” in their branches and leaves that can sense and respond to touch. When a tree is being shaken or touched, these cells send electrical signals that trigger various defense mechanisms, such as producing toxic compounds to deter herbivores.
- Trees can influence weather patterns: Large forests can create their own microclimates by releasing moisture into the air through a process known as “transpiration.” This moisture can affect local humidity, cloud formation, and even precipitation patterns, making forests important for regional weather systems.
- Trees can “walk”: The “walking palm” (Socratea exorrhiza), found in the rainforests of Central and South America, has a unique adaptation. It can grow new roots on one side of its trunk while allowing older roots to die on the opposite side. This gradual process causes the tree to lean in one direction, giving it the appearance of “walking” across the forest floor.
- Trees can live for thousands of years: Some tree species, such as the bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) and the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), can live for thousands of years. The famous Methuselah tree, a bristlecone pine in California, is estimated to be over 4,800 years old!
- Trees can heal themselves: When a tree gets damaged, it has the ability to heal itself over time. Trees can compartmentalize injured areas by forming barriers to prevent the spread of decay and disease. They can also produce new layers of wood to strengthen and protect the damaged area, allowing the tree to continue growing and thriving.