Over the course of its life, an average tree can absorb a ton of carbon dioxide. Only about one in a million acorns makes it all the way to becoming a mature oak tree.
Trees form by far the bulk of Earth’s biomass. In life and in death trees contribute to the biosphere by making oxygen, moving water, storing carbon dioxide, enriching soil with dead and decaying parts, and recycling the nutrients that life on Earth depends on.
Trees are vascular plants that develop a single woody stem known as a trunk. Generally, trees grow to 15 feet or taller. Trees differ from shrubs, which are shorter and usually have multiple stems. Trees span the three botanical groups that represent vascular plants—pteridophytes, gymnosperms, and angiosperms.
Gymnosperms and angiosperms propagate by seeds. In the former type, seeds are exposed, or naked, on a structure such as a cone; on the latter, they are within the ovary of a flower. Pteridophytes, on the other hand, are seedless vascular plants such as the tree fern.
Not all parts of a tree are alive at one time, especially, in mature trees. Keeping so much mass alive all the time would require more energy than a tree’s system could handle. The inner core of the trunk, called the heartwood, is composed of out-of-commission xylem that no longer transports water throughout the tree. Similarly, the oldest layers of phloem, which transports the food manufactured through photosynthesis, form the outer, dead bark of the tree’s surface.
In between the heartwood and bark lies the tree’s sapwood, its living energy-storage tissue.
WHY DO LEAVES CHANGE COLOUR?
As days grow shorter and temperatures cooler, deciduous trees prepare for winter dormancy. Lacking sufficient light and water, photosynthesis shuts down, and trees must live off food stored during the growing season.
In spring, leaves lay the groundwork for their demise. A special layer of cells forms at the base of each leaf, called the abscission or separation layer. Its work is to transport water to the leaf and take food, created by photosynthesis, back to the tree.
In autumn, the cells of this layer begin to swell and the bottom of this layer forms a corklike substance that eventually cuts off all transfer between leaf and tree. Meanwhile, the top of the layer begins to disintegrate, making it easy for the leaf to detach.
As photosynthesis ceases, the leaves lose their chlorophyll, which gives them their green colour. Without chlorophyll, other colours emerge. Yellow and orange, for example, are normally present in the leaves but are overshadowed by the chlorophyll. Maple-leaf red occurs because glucose remains when photosynthesis shuts down. Drab oak-leaf brown represents wastes left in the leaves.
A TREE FROM AGES PAST
The long-needled Wollemi pine is a survivor from the age of dinosaurs. While fossil records made the 200-million-year-old species known to us, it was believed to be extinct. Then, in 1994, an Australian parks officer found a single tree in the Blue Mountains in Wollemi National Park. Subsequently, a hundred adult trees were counted there. Conservation efforts funded in part from the sale of saplings go to save and strengthen the species.
By Kamlesh Tripathi
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GLOOM BEHIND THE SMILE
(The book is about a young cancer patient. Now archived in 7 prestigious libraries of the US, including, Harvard University and Library of Congress. It can also be accessed in MIT through Worldcat.org. Besides, it is also available for reading in Libraries and archives of Canada and Cancer Aid and Research Foundation Mumbai)
ONE TO TANGO … RIA’S ODYSSEY
(Is a book on ‘singlehood’ about a Delhi girl now archived in Connemara Library, Chennai and Delhi Public Library, GOI, Ministry of Culture, Delhi)
AADAB LUCKNOW … FOND MEMORIES
(Is a fiction written around the great city of Nawabs—Lucknow. It describes Lucknow in great detail and also talks about its Hindu-Muslim amity. That happens to be its undying characteristic. The book was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival of 2014)
REFRACTIONS … FROM THE PRISM OF GOD
(Co-published by Cankids–Kidscan, a pan India NGO and Shravan Charity Mission, that works for Child cancer in India. The book is endorsed by Ms Preetha Reddy, MD Apollo Hospitals Group. It was launched in Lucknow International Literary Festival 2016)
TYPICAL TALE OF AN INDIAN SALESMAN
(Is a story of an Indian salesman who is, humbly qualified. Yet he fights his ways through unceasing uncertainties to reach the top. A good read not only for salesmen. The book was launched on 10th February, 2018 in Gorakhpur Lit-Fest. Now available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
RHYTHM … in poems
(Published in January 2019. The book contains 50 poems. The poems describe our day to day life. The book is available in Amazon, Flipkart and Onlinegatha)
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