I find trees amazing. I find all plant life pretty amazing, but trees additionally impress me because they are more complex in order to maintain and eventually dispose of their stature.
I have received a vote on the poll asking for more information on tree biology and am therefore going to do an introduction to trees: their parts and functions.
We begin with tree roots.
(Image Credit: The Arbor Centre)To start I would like to dispel a common myth regarding tree roots. Actually a few myths: conifer tree roots are no more shallow than broadleaf tree roots, a trees’ root system is not a mirror of its’ crown and not all trees have or can maintain a tap root, due to the conditions below ground.
(Image Credit: waterloo100)There are several different types of tree root systems however the development of trees’ roots, the same as the development of the tree above ground, is not only driven by its’ genetics but by its’ environmental stimulus; how favourable its’ surroundings above and below ground are.
Tree root systems generally consist of anchorage roots, the larger roots that travel downwards however not usually in excess of 3m, and feeder roots, the finer string like mass of roots that are predominantly found within the top 60cm of the soil where they can successfully access water and nutrients, in an aerobic environment (i.e. with oxygen).
Tree roots have three main functions: they provide water and nutrients via the feeder roots, they provide anchorage therefore aiding stability, and they are used to store food stocks generated during photosynthesis.
Tree root systems are generally mature before the tree and there is a direct relationship between the developed root system and the size and stature of the tree. It is a communication that determines the trees potential if left to natural development.
Loss of or damage to root systems once a tree has begun to mature or reached maturity can be disastrous, and symptoms of root damage are most commonly the development of deadwood, often directly above the area of root damage.
The bottom line with trees, like the rest of nature they are designed to adapt. This tree, either layed as part of a hedge and neglected or failed though damage or disease, appears to have successfully layered. It is expected that the stem on the ground has developed a root system and at some point if required the connection with the main plant could be severed to leave a new specimen.
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