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rojo's avatar

Why do trees seem to respect each others personal space?

Asked by rojo (22065points) October 22nd, 2013

I know that trees with have branches in each others area at the periphery but they do not seem to become intertwined and an impenetrable mess. Why not? What is it that keeps them from entangling so that in a forest you could not cut down a tree because it would not fall? Why would the limbs from one tree not go all the way through to the other side of an adjacent tree and vice-a-versa?

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34 Answers

picante's avatar

They arbor no ill feelings ;-)

Pachy's avatar

Why woodn’t they?

ragingloli's avatar

Just in case that one day they decide to leaf.

zenvelo's avatar

Because the trees seek sunlight. They don’t grow where it is already shaded. Ever notice the floor of an old growth forest? Nothing grows down below, no young trees growing where the acorns or walnuts or other seeds fall, because they don’t get light.

janbb's avatar

They can’t twig that anyone else might do differently and are happy to branch out.

glacial's avatar

This is called “crown shyness”, and it occurs more in some species (like lodgepole pine) than in others. It’s the result of many, many collisions between the branches of neighbouring trees on windy days, which influence the shapes of the trees over a span of years. You can get hundreds of these collisions per hour on an even moderately windy day.

picante's avatar

The instinct is so deeply rooted they can’t snap out of it. They pine fir sunlight.

Sunny2's avatar

@rojo Did you ever imagine this question would be such fertile ground for punditree?

janbb's avatar

Maple we can change the subject?

Sunny2's avatar

^^^Knot a chance.

janbb's avatar

^^You’re such a gnarly person!

CWOTUS's avatar

Oak my god. Son of a beech. Willow yew stop this, please? I don’t want to start barking here, but these puns go against my grain.

picante's avatar

Yew are in good company. I hope @rojo doesn’t think we’re pecan on him. I bough to the greater good, forest better to receive the puns than to give.

janbb's avatar

I hope @rojo is not cherry picking the answers or we’ll all be punished.

picante's avatar

I’m lumbering off to lunch now; y’all will have keep logging these puns without me.

syz's avatar

Lack of sun. Trees grow to reach the light, so there’s no reason to grow toward another tree.

janbb's avatar

@picante After kindling our fun, you’re not going to fire off any more.

jaytkay's avatar

I thought this was going to be a serious discussion. Needles to say, after looking in, I deciduous are all merely off on a larch.

Pachy's avatar

Trees respect each other’s personal space because they’re Democrats.

dxs's avatar

Okay. Yuccan all stop with the puns now.

mazingerz88's avatar

May look like trees respect each other’s space on the surface but I’m pretty sure there are lots of messy entanglements below ground. I believe the root of the problem is that trees a crowd down there.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Some trees are allelopathic .

“Allelopathy refers to the beneficial or harmful effects of one plant on another plant, both crop and weed species, from the release of biochemicals, known as allelochemicals, from plant parts by leaching, root exudation, volatilization, residue decomposition, and other processes in both natural and agricultural systems.”

Black Walnut and hemlock trees are notorious for killing all competitors in the area.

augustlan's avatar

I love this thread. A great question, some seriously helpful answers and fantastic puns, all in one place!

janbb's avatar

@augustlan Campbell’s Cream of Best of Fluther!

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I don’t know if all the words or termite be punny.
Sometimes the jokes wooden be funny if you are rooted in a dessert ( ice cream sundae comes to mind. )

CWOTUS's avatar

This has been good fir a larch, anyway. Alder threads should be so poplar.

KaY_Jelly's avatar

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Hey! Cut it out! ♧

YARNLADY's avatar

We have an orange tree in our yard that is all entwined with the lemon tree next door, on the other side of the fence. I keep expecting to see little Leoranges, also known as Meyer Lemons

janbb's avatar

@YARNLADY Why does that make me think of “Romeo and Juliet”?

YARNLADY's avatar

@janbb Ahhhh, forbidden love.

rojo's avatar

@zenvelo I thought about the sunlight thing but trees don’t seem to mind their own shade, how is that different from other trees shade?
@glacial I can see that but does not the wind blow their own limbs together? What would be the difference between your own and someone elses?
@mazingerz88 Interesting question, how much do the roots overlap underground?
@LuckyGuy True, my wife used to work with Guayule and Creosote plants. The creosote is notorious for keeping its immediate vicinity clear. I wonder if they can exude the chems into the air as well as into the soils.

For the rest of you Thank you for your answers, All I can say is:

Wood you look at what happened! I was trying to branch out get a serious plant discussion rooted in psychology but I see I was barking up the wrong tree. Acacia believe the responses. I should have used privet messaging.

OaK, now I cedar error of my ways. “Holly Guauyul”, Ash a stupid question… I guess pecan all relate to that, no matter how poplar a question may be we all pine for the elder days. If I could, ironwood go back and rephrase the question sumac differently, I was chestnut thinking. Maple I can try again later.

I am not Beech ing but I walnut be a part of this. You cannot pinyon this on me. I will close now before we all become sycamore plum crazy puns. There are many more questions out there that pecan all ponderosa.

janbb's avatar

@rojo MWAH for that spectacular punfermonce. How many days did it take you to come up with that?

glacial's avatar

@rojo A tree is already invested in growing its own branches apart instead of together, so that the leaves are exposed to more light. But yes, abrasions from collisions will contribute to the tree shaping itself to a small extent also.

Regarding a tree shading itself, some species are able to change the shapes of their leaves according to how much sunlight is available. They produce shade leaves (smaller leaves grown within the tree’s own shade) and sun leaves (larger leaves grown at the outside of the plant). This allows them to invest less energy into the growth of leaves that will not be able to photosynthesize as much due to the low amount of light they receive. So… they do, in a sense, “mind their own shade”.

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