Fun Facts About Trees

These gentle giants of the outdoor world harbor their own secrets.
Sequoiadendron giganteum  (06) Habit

Sequoiadendron giganteum (06) Habit

Trees contain vast secrets equal to their grandeur.

Trees contain vast secrets equal to their grandeur.

Trees are arguably the most valuable plants in our gardens, simply because it takes so long for most of them to grow. They’re also productive. Grow fruit trees, and you’ll have fresh apples, cherries, or pears for the table. According to an old saying, you should plant pecans for your children (since pecans take many years to bear).  Choose an ornamental, and you’ll give birds a place to raise their young—and give yourself a shady spot to relax in a lawn chair. 

While you’re sitting there, look up into the branches and think about some of these fascinating facts:

  • Wind-blown cottonwood seeds can stay airborne for days before they land. In fact, they can fly longer than any other kind of tree seeds.
  • The rings in a cut tree don’t just reveal its age. They can also show signs of environmental changes, like a volcanic eruption or severe drought.
  • Trees help improve our water quality as they slow and filter rainfall.
  • No other organism on Earth lives as long as a tree.
  • A shade tree can help cool your home or office building by as much as 20 degrees in the summertime.
  • The astronauts on Apollo 14 carried tree seeds into space with them. Back on Earth, the seeds sprouted and grew. The young trees were given away to various state forestry services from 1975-1976, as part of the nation’s bicentennial celebration.
  • Some trees seem to “talk” to each other. Willows, for example, emit certain chemicals when they’re attacked by webworms. Other willows then appear to produce more tannin, making their leaves harder for the pests to digest.
  • The biggest tree is a giant sequoia in California’s Redwood Forest. It measures some 30 stories tall and 82’ in circumference. 
  • California holds the record for the oldest living trees, too. Some of the state’s bristlecone pines and giant sequoias are thought to be 4,000-5,000 years old.
  • Have you ever knocked on wood for good luck? That superstition may have originated with primitive peoples who believed benevolent spirits lived in the trees.