Ginny’s Tree Things

On a recent visit to Wyo I was discussing the White Pine trees with Carol and Susie. The towering pines that line the camp paths and that we look at in grove are all Eastern White Pine. We were talking about the stress put on the White Pines and their double needle loss every year for the last many years due to two or three funguses. This has resulted in a blanket of dead needles coming down in late June. The golden brown color decorates the camp paths nicely but is not good for the trees to go through this process at the wrong time of year and thins out the crown of the trees. To read more about this topic read this article by the forest service: Eastern White Pine Needle Damage

Here are a couple more thoughts about trees.

Most green plants compete with all other green plants to get sunshine. Trees and most all green plants need sunshine to change into sugar through a process called photosynthesis. Trees use the sugar to grow. When a tree drops its seeds or cones in the fall, sometimes a baby tree will sprout often in the shade of its parent tree. The parent tree, being much bigger and taller, shades the little sapling keeping it from getting the sun it needs to make enough sugar to survive. Many new young trees do not survive. Healthy adult trees that have plenty of sun make enough sugar for themselves plus extra sugar which they store down in their roots. The parent trees share their stored sugar with their saplings through an underground fungal network that connects entire stands of trees together. The next time you dig up and take a sapling from the forest, remember that you must give it extra care to take the place of the care given to it by its parent tree.

For many years, we humans have considered ourselves better than many things for many reasons. Who cares if we kill a tree or many trees. After all, trees don’t know anything: they can’t communicate. Right? Wrong. Plant scientists, botanists have discovered that trees do communicate with each other. They tell each other when bad insects are on the way. They discuss whether or not to make a lot of acorns or pine cones. It takes a lot of tree energy to make seeds or cones or acorns. Trees have to have enough stored energy or sugar in their roots to make acorns and pine cones. So, each year the trees communicate among themselves and decide whether to make a lot of seeds or just a few. Sometimes, I wonder if the trees are standing around communicating with each other and wondering when we humans will get smart enough to communicate as well as they, the trees do. What makes us so sure that trees do not communicate? Maybe we just have not learned their language. Maybe, someday in the future, in school, your choices of foreign languages like Spanish, French, etc. will include “Tree.”

On this Earth Day, April 22, 2021, I encourage you to keep educating yourself about topics that interest you, and do what you can to protect and preserve the climate and our natural environment. The trees and we share a common thread – we both are of the earth. Rather than overlooking that premise, what can we, you and I, do to promote our mutual survival?

Ginny Geyer
Wyonegonic Alumnae
Junior Maine Guide Program – Tester
Wyonegonic Outdoor Living Skills Staff Trainer

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