How Do Trees Know When It’s Time To Change?
Seasonal changes aren’t just for us, they also affect trees. In this blog, we’ll explore some of the ways trees know when it’s time to change!
The Life Cycle Of A Tree
A tree’s life cycle is similar to that of other plants and animals. There are four main stages: Seed (Conception), Sprout, Seedling and Sapling. When a seed is placed in an ideal location, it will stick to the soil and germinate. A tiny root grows downward to collect water and minerals from the soil and anchor the seed. The sprout then pushes up through the ground seeking sunlight and making food through photosynthesis. It may poke through or rot underneath the soil as it grows and develops into a seedling. Eventually the young sapling grows into a mature or adult tree, producing flowers and fruit for consumption and reproduction.
The Biology of a Tree
The biology of trees involves a complex set of processes that are unique to each plant, adapted to suit and gel with prevailing environmental conditions. Some of these adaptations include morphological, physiological, and evolutionary changes that help the plants to adapt and survive. One of the most important tree functions is photosynthesis. Through this process, leaves use sunlight to break apart carbon dioxide into water and usable energy. This energy is then used to make food that the trees need to grow and reproduce. The leaves also create a pathway for the uptake of water from the atmosphere by a process called transpiration. Another important tree function is respiration, which uses oxygen to break down the carbon chains created through photosynthesis for use as energy in a variety of biological functions. Respiration is a process that happens throughout the cells of a tree, not just in a single area like photosynthesis.
Trees have a complex metabolism driven by cyclic dynamics. They know when it’s time to enter dormancy, break dormancy, and focus on flowers, leaves, or fruit. During the growing season, trees make lots of chlorophyll, which helps them use sunlight to produce energy. As the days get shorter and cooler, chlorophyll production slows down. This is when the leaves begin to change color. Green leaves fade to shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. As the temperature starts to drop, hormones within the leaf cause the cells in the abscission zone to separate and fall off. The leaves then break down in the soil. This allows the roots to absorb water and nutrients needed for a successful winter. As a result, trees are ready to resume growth when the weather starts to warm up again!
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