Tree trimming samurai in action!

Edward Scissorhands has got nothing on Chuck Berry's two-handed Christmas tree trimming at Berry's Christmas Tree Farm in Covington, Georgia. (via Digg)

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Beautiful video of the giant redwood trees of Northern California


More Than Just Parks (MTJP) immerses us in the Redwood National and State Parks to see the tallest trees in the world. What you see in this video is literally in my backyard and I feel so fortunate that I can immerse myself in such beauty just by stepping outside.

Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California are home to the tallest trees in the world, the mighty Redwood, which can reach staggering heights of over 360ft and weigh more than 500 tons. These parks feature magical forests, miles of spectacular beaches, stunning overlooks, and the largest herd of Roosevelt elk on the planet. This film was shot entirely in 4K.


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Crown shyness - when trees don't like to touch each other


This incredible photo is an example of "crown shyness," a phenomenon in which the crowns of trees maintain a little personal space between each other. Scientists have been trying to figure out why trees do this.

One hypothesis is that the gap forms when trees collide with each other in the wind, and to prevent damage, the crowns stop growing. Experiments support that hypothesis. When researchers physically restrain trees from colliding in the wind, the crowns will grow to touch each other.

Malaysian scholar F.S.P. Ng offers competing hypothesis. According to Wikipedia, he "found no evidence of abrasions due to contact in that tree. He suggested that the growing tips were sensitive to light levels and stopped growing when nearing the adjacent foliage. In Betula pendula (silver birch), fewer buds develop in parts of the crown that are already dense or where the crowns of different trees start meeting, possibly because of less light."

Another reason tree crowns are shy might be to slow the spread of leaf-eating insect larvae.

Image: Canopy of Dryobalanops aromatica in Forest Research Center - Kuala Lumpur

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Study: World has 8x the number of trees we thought


There are about 3.04 trillion trees on planet earth, rather more than the expected 400 billion, reports Nature. But it's not good news. Read the rest

Welcome to lumberjack YouTube

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There's a wonderful little corner of YouTube where stoic burly men wander deep into the woods and chop down tall trees with chainsaws.

Houses with roof trees

Devised by Vietnam's Vo Trong Nghia Architects as a response to the nation's rapid development: "only .25 percent of the land in Ho Chi Minh City is covered in vegetation," writes Wired's Margaret Rhodes. Read the rest

Henry Miller Memorial Library's fallen redwood auction

On Sunday, the hallowed nonprofit Henry Miller Memorial Library in magical Big Sur, California will auction off large slabs of old-growth redwood sliced from a 200-foot, 500-year-old tree that fell on the site a couple years ago.

Here's library staff member Mike Scutari recounting the tree's topple:

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Tree grows 40 types of fruit

Sam Van Aken created a tree that "grows over forty different types of stone fruit including peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines, cherries, and almonds." Read the rest

The new life of dead trees

Dani Tinker, with the National Wildlife Federation, on the wonderful weird things growing in that felled log out back.

Beetles kill Beatle's memorial tree

The George Harrison Memorial Tree in Los Angeles, planted in memory of the Beatles guitarist, was killed by beetles. Read the rest

Interactive map of the world's tree loss

Global Forest Watch maintains a current map of worldwide tree loss and gain, based upon satellite and other mapping imagery provided by Google. The "loss" color seems to obscure the "gain" color at further-out zoom levels, but it's very easy to explore. [via Flowing Data] Read the rest

Beautiful photo: Tree "oasis" in a farmer's field

A lovely entry in Smithsonian's ongoing 2013 Photo Contest, Emma Stephenson's "Perfect Tree in a Farmer's Field" photographed in the North Yorkshire countryside, England.

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Turntable that "plays" the rings of a tree

Bartholomäus Traubeck's "Years" is a modified record player that "plays" a slice of a tree, converting (and transforming) year ring data into piano music.

It is mapped to a scale which is again defined by the overall appearance of the wood (ranging from dark to light and from strong texture to light texture). The foundation for the music is certainly found in the defined ruleset of programming and hardware setup, but the data acquired from every tree interprets this ruleset very differently.

"Years" (Thanks, Syd Garon!) Read the rest

The oldest living tree tells all

"In 1964, a geologist in the Nevada wilderness discovered the oldest living thing on earth, after he killed it." A terrific opening sentence to Hunter Oatman-Stanford's story in Collector's Weekly about bristlecone pine trees, which can live for thousands of years.

By the time of Currey’s survey, trees were typically dated using core samples taken with a hollow threaded bore screwed into a tree’s trunk. No larger than a soda straw, these cores then received surface preparations in a lab to make them easier to read under a microscope. While taking core samples from the Prometheus tree, which Currey labeled WPN-114, his boring bit snapped in the bristlecone’s dense wood. After requesting assistance from the Forest Service, a team was sent to fell the tree using chainsaws. Only days later, when Currey individually counted each of the tree’s rings, did he realize the gravity of his act.
(Image: Inyo Bristlecone Signature Tree, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from usfsregion5's photostream) Read the rest

Why do trees fall over in a storm?

The more accurate version of this question would really be something like, "Why do some trees fall over in a storm while others stay standing?" The answer is more complex than a simple distinction between old, rotted, and weak vs. young, healthy, and strong. Instead, writes Mary Knudson at Scientific American blogs, trees fall because of their size, their species, and even the history of the human communities around them.

“Trees most at risk are those whose environment has recently changed (say in the last 5 – 10 years),” Smith says. When trees that were living in the midst of a forest lose the protection of a rim of trees and become stand-alones in new housing lots or become the edge trees of the forest, they are made more vulnerable to strong weather elements such as wind.

They also lose the physical protection of surrounding trees that had kept them from bending very far and breaking. Land clearing may wound a tree’s trunk or roots, “providing an opportunity for infection by wood decay fungi. Decay usually proceeds slowly, but can be significant 5-10 years after basal or root injury.” What humans do to the ground around trees — compacting soil, changing gradation and drainage “can kill roots and increase infection,” Smith warns.

Read the full piece at Scientific American Blogs

Image: West Philly Storm - Trees Down, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from kwbridge's photostream

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The life and death of a 125-year-old tree (video)

Standing, and Falling, two short films by Casimir Nozkowski about the life and death of a big, beautiful, very old tree.

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Attack of the zombie maples

Last month, I spent several days in Harvard Forest, 3500 acres of woods dedicated to scientific research. The forest is home to dozens of research projects, some short-term, others stretching over decades. I told you a little about how I got to participate in some of these studies, learning how to collect and analyze data in the same ways that ecologists do. Along the way, I ran into something a little weird—trees that were very much alive, but weren't growing.

If those of us who are not tree experts know anything at all about tree life cycles it's probably centered on tree rings. We learned back in grade school that trees form a new ring every year. Chop down the tree, and you can see a record sometimes stretching back hundreds of years—burn marks indicating fire, fat rings during times of plenty, and thin rings showing resource scarcity. And we know that scientists use these rings to learn about the past, to find out what was happening in local environments before human beings started to painstakingly record that information.

When it makes a new ring, a tree becomes a little fatter. Over decades, you should see a change in its diameter. So I was surprised, during my time in Harvard Forest, to run across several red maple trees that hadn't grown an inch in 11 years. Scientists had measured the trees in 2001. We came back and measured them in 2012. In that time, the diameters hadn't changed at all. Read the rest

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