Hello everyone! I know, I know, its been a long time ; almost two months since my last question but I’ve been busy. But I’m back and we’re up to 5,000+ views and growing. Thanks guys!
So shall we begin with my newest thought. This is a question I’ve always wondered but never thought to look into until I was at work thinking up more random questions for you guys.
Sounds like a silly question but, really, where does all the matter in a tree come from? Think about it for a moment.
Trees grow in the ground, so it’s intuitive to assume that the matter that makes a tree might come from the ground. But the truth is, trees are actually formed largely out of what else… the air. Trees, and all photosynthesizing plants, use the energy of the sun to split atmospheric carbon dioxide into its constituents: oxygen and carbon. And carbon is the primary building block of the tree and all of life on earth for that matter.
There is a model called Grimes’ triangle which is useful when considering this.
It divides all plants into 3 groups. One of those groups is ‘competitive’. Trees are in the competitive group. They are successful because they can grow taller than other plants and block out the light. In a stable environment they are the most effective at dominating the natural resources.
Life for a tree is not, however, perfect. It is very expensive for a plant to grow that tall and difficult to transport water so high. Trees take a long time to grow and need to be in a stable environment. They breed and evolve more slowly. They are also more vulnerable to seasonal change and recover slowly from physical damage. For these reasons among others, trees are not the only species.
When naked land is formed, by geological activity or glaciers etc. small plants are able to colonize it quickly but over time they lose out to taller and taller species and, given that nothing interrupts the process of succession the tallest tree species will become the most abundant species of plant. Before the evolution of man, most of the land surface was forested.