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How a Tree Functions

I’m going to explain this as simply as possible and separate it into two functions, production of energy and stability…sound good to you!


Let’s get into this…we all remember photosynthesis from school right! Well that still stands true…unlike Pluto…poor Pluto…but I digress…where was I…ENERGY…in essence the tree is an oscillating pump (Dr.A.Shigo, we thank you) it pulls water and nutrients held in solution within the soil into its vascular system which is drawn up to the leaves where it interacts with sunlight (radiation) and gets turned in to sugars though a process called Photosynthesis. The sugar then goes back into the system for the tree to use as energy for growth, defense and put a little in the bank for a rainy day.

So, the leaf part is all “dynamic” (produces energy) and the branches and trunk are “static” (non-energy producing) or the scaffold if you like to hold up the leaves.

The roots system is “dynamic” for it is vital that it functions for the tree to photosynthesize. The roots are in the soil…ahh the soil…the ol soil food web again…

And that’s about it in a model from, water and nutrients from the soil through the tree to the leaves where energy is produced which goes back into the tree and moved to “sinks” for use this season, defense or for future use. Of course, it’s much more complex than that but you get the gist.

Now onto Stability

We are all familiar with Newtons discovery of the principles of gravity well that’s a part of what’s keeping your tree in place, gravity pushing the structure downwards. Simple right…well it’s a little more than that…the tree is rooted in place…into the…you guessed it…the soil…anyone one will be thinking you’ve read my previous blogs…as the leaves move, they produce energy that goes into the twigs, to the branches, to the trunk, to the root crown, to the anchorage roots, the rope roots and all the way out to fine root hairs. Where these roots are in contact with the soil, the soil then absorbs the energy…phew…it’s a whole connected system ending with (and beginning) with the soil. So, the cohesive forces between the roots and the soil particles also play a crucial role in the stability of your tree and prevent it from falling down.

On occasion some do right…is that the soil failing or the tree failing…we will get into that later on…first lets chat about Mulch!

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