Trees around us

The dictionary definition of a tree is: "A usually tall woody plant, distinguished from a shrub by having comparatively greater height and, characteristically, a single trunk rather than several stems" (American Heritage Dictionary).

What a dull definition for such stately and magnificent living entities.

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I'm fascinated by the beauty and variety of trees around the world. There are found in almost all areas of the world.

from the wettest:

from the hottest:

to the driest:

to the coldest:

The variety and beauty of trees is amazing. The provide us with food and shelter, beauty and shade.

Whenever I can I get out into the woods, whether for an hour or two with my dog, or for a couple days with my hiking buddies (in 2009 we completed the last of the forty- eight 4,000 footers in the White Mountains of NH. That's a whole other story, and could be a website in itself, if I but had the time.)

I find being among the trees to be relaxing and it revives my soul. Perhaps its just being away from the noise of daily life, but maybe it's all the oxygen being created.

The miracle of photosynthesis

Have you ever walked through the woods and breathed in the air, thinking how fresh and clean it smelled?

It isn't your imagination.

You are breathing brand new oxygen produced by the very trees surrounding you.

How does this happen?

It happens through a truly miraculous process known as photosynthesis.

Photosynthesis is the means by which trees and other plants turn sunlight into food.

More specifically; in a series of biochemical processes, the chlorophyll in the tree's foliage captures light energy in the form of photons. These photons react with water and carbon dioxide (collected mainly in the tree's leaves and roots) and are transformed into simple sugars, with oxygen and water as waste products.

The general formula looks like this:

6 CO2 (carbon dioxide) + 12 H20 (water) + photons (light energy) = C6H12O6 (glucose) + 6 O2 (oxygen) + 6 H20 (water).

The tree then transforms the glucose (sugar) into the biochemical fuels needed to continue it's own growth. At the same time it releases excess oxygen into the air through pores in its leaves.

In essence, trees and other plants "inhale" CO2 and "exhale" oxygen, while we humans and other animals do the opposite. We literally couldn't survive without trees.

Next time you're in the woods think about all the trees "breathing" around you and remember that without them we wouldn't have the oxygen we need to breath.

So plant a tree today, then take a deep, satisfying breath and give yourself a pat on the back for helping keep our air fresh.

I used to live near a beautiful old copper beech. Its silvery trunk was so large it would have taken three of me to reach around. Its branches spread wide in all directions creating a beautiful clearing beneath it.

This beech, like all trees, had several different parts. Each part of a tree has it's own specialized purpose.

Click the link to continue on to the next page about wood structure, parts and purposes of trees.

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