What Is A Tree?
Hi all and welcome to Wolverhampton Tree Service Ltd’s first ever blog!
I have been wondering what to write about for a few days now.
I have decided to go back to basics and write about a tree or more specifically; what is a tree?
The first definition that comes up when searching for; what is a tree? “A woody perennial plant, typically having a single stem or trunk growing to a considerable height and bearing lateral branches at some distance from the ground.”
When I did my level 4 diploma in “arb” we were taught that a tree is a ‘self-optimising mechanical structure’.
“It’s got green leaves”
Therefore it looks as though we have 2 very different definitions, neither of which are very exciting. If you have never seen a tree, would these definitions give you any indication of what they actually look like? Trees come in all shapes and sizes. It would be impossible to try and describe what a tree looks like.
It’s always amusing when a customer phones up and tries to help us guess the species over the phone. “It’s got green leaves” they say, “that’s narrowed it down” we say.
A tree is much more than just its appearance. There is a lot going on underground that most people will never see. Not only underground, but also underneath the bark. Inside the leaves are some amazing processes to help them survive, grow and die. Trees will also battle with, but also form beneficial relationships with fungi. Something we will cover in a later blog.
So then, what is a tree?
No two trees are the same in terms of shape and size. There are approximately 60,065 different species across the world. From the arctic willow, which are only between 1 to 6 cm in height. Right through to the tallest, which reach unimaginable heights of 115.9m. A mature coastal redwood is a billion, billion times heavier than the seed it originated from.
Some claim that the oldest trees in the world are the aspens in USA dating back 80,00 years!
All of the trees mentioned above vary in size and shape. Whether they are conifers, broadleaves and in a wider sense, ferns. The only feature which all trees share in common is a perennial wooden skeleton.
It seems fair to say that a tree would have a different definition to anyone who is asking the question or whoever is giving the answer.
Well, as I am asking the question and providing the answer, here is my definition of a tree.
“A big woody thing with leaves”
A bit about us
Wolverhampton Tree Service has been operating since 1988, I have been part of that journey for almost 19 years.
During this time I have gone from being the apprentice to groundsman, climber, manager and now Managing Director.
This has given me not only plenty of hands on experience with trees, but also a genuine love and passion for trees that I believe only a fellow arborist will understand.
We get to see them in all their guts and glory; from climbing the majestic giant beech trees that have a pure elegance about them. To gnarly old veteran oaks which you can’t help but have a huge amount of respect for. We’ve clambered up the ivy covered hawthorns that leave you feeling like a pin cushion. To the blackthorns which seem to want to eat you alive.
I could tell you a story about each and every individual species of tree I have worked with. Ones that have caused me to go a little more grey. Trees that have tried to kill me. Ones that have tried to kill houses and cars. However, most of the stories will be of trees that I have enjoyed spending time with. Feeling like a visitor in their lives, rather than the other way round.
There have been trees that I have gotten to know over the years. Trees that I’ve looked after and pruned or inspected and surveyed on a regular basis. You get to know them as you would get to know a person, developing a respect for them. You get to know every nook, cranny, warts and all. Even the ‘ugly’ trees with cavities and decay, or misshapen crowns that to me look perfect.
There have been trees that I have not enjoyed spending time with, but I still can’t help have respect them for what they are.
I’ve also seen some of these old friends fall from grace, either by natural forces or removed by man. Sometimes, I’ve even had to do the deed myself. There have been times where new owners have employed a different tree surgeon, who has clearly not developed a love and respect for the trees. Or are lacking in their skillset, performing substandard work on my old friend. It’s always disheartening to see an old friend in a sorry state, trying to recover from its losses. They often manage to recover though. If left to their own devices, they manage to come back with a new lease of life to be enjoyed again by many.
I guess I won’t ever be able to come up with a definition as descriptive as “a self-optimising mechanical structure”, and my definition of ‘a big woody thing with leaves’ just doesn’t seem to them any justice I suppose.