Master Gardeners – Trees provide so much for us

Published 12:09 am Saturday, July 25, 2020

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By Sheri Bethard

Texas Certified Master Gardener, Orange County Master Gardeners

(Editor’s note: This is part one of a two part series on trees.)

Trees are an important part of our world. They provide wood for building and pulp for making paper along with homes for all sorts of insects, birds and other animals. Many fruits and nuts come from trees like oranges, apples, pecans, walnuts, pears, and peaches. You can even use the sap from some trees to make syrup.

Did you know that trees and plants breathe? They take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen while at the same time we breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. It’s like what is bad for us is good for the trees and plants.

Trees do more for us than give us food and oxygen. They also provide us shade, which helps keep the earth cooler. If you are out in the sun and step in the shade you notice it is so much cooler in the shade than it is in the sun and that is because the tree’s leaves are providing you with cover. Lots of pictures have been painted of trees and many songs and poems have been written about them too.

Trees grow the most in the spring and summer, where there is a lot of sunshine every day. When fall begins, the days grow shorter and there is less sun. alerting the tree to begin getting ready for winter. The leaves begin to turn red, orange, gold and brown, because with less sunlight and water for photosynthesis, the green chlorophyll begins to disappear.

The leaf colors we see in the autumn have been in the leaves all along, but with so much green chlorophyll, we don’t see them until the chlorophyll is gone. As winter approaches, the tree uses less and less food it stored from summer and goes into a rest period. Actually, the tree hibernates, just like bears do. The only difference is that bears lie down in a cave or somewhere dark to sleep and trees loose all their leaves and stand up to sleep.

There are two different kinds of trees, deciduous and evergreen. Deciduous trees are ones loosing all their leaves in fall making them bare throughout winter. In drier, hot areas, they will loose their leaves during the summer to save on their energy so they don’t have to grow leaves and need water. An example of a deciduous tree is an oak tree.

Evergreen trees don’t loose their leaves all at the same time. They keep some on their branches all of the time so they look like they are full. They loose a few everyday with new leaves replacing the old one almost immediately. A pine tree is an evergreen tree that is green all year long.

What is the tallest tree in the world?

The Giant Redwood Trees in California are the tallest trees in the world. The can grow over 370 feet tall.

What is the oldest tree in the world?

The Bristlecone Pine trees are the oldest trees in the world with one in California being over 4,700 years old.

For Horticulture information and answers to your questions contact the Master Gardener Hotline Tuesday and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at 409 882-7010. After these times send your inquiries to Contact or our Facebook page Orange County Texas Master Gardeners.