Trees have been a wonderful gift to man and the planet. Fossil records indicate that the first trees lived approximately 385 million years ago and they continued to flourish until they covered the earth as recently as two million years ago. They grow larger than shrubs and have a single main stem, but there is no defining attribute between a tree and a shrub, made more confusing by the existence of dwarf or small trees, and sometimes trees' growth can be stunted by its environment.
By all estimations, there are over three trillion trees growing today, important for their value to the world: absorbing carbon dioxide, removing and storing the carbon while releasing oxygen back into the air, supplying wood for burning (for heat, cooking, creating power, etc.) and timber for construction, providing shade for cooling, slowing water evaporation, providing food for humans and wildlife, furnishing a canopy and habitat for wildlife and adding beauty with the seasonal changing of colors, brilliant flowers and leaves, and when decorated. Kinda hard to put up a kid's swing without a hefty tree branch from which to hang. Even forest fires can be beneficial -- killing disease and numerous insects that will prey on the growth of the forest, providing nutrients for new generations of growth and refreshing the various habitat zones the forest encompasses.
The largest, tallest and oldest trees in the world all happen to be located in California, with the General Sherman Tree, a giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park, the largest by volume (52,500 cu. ft.), Hyperion, a coastal redwood in Redwood National Park, the tallest (380 ft.), and a Great Basin bristlecone pine, growing in the White Mountains, the oldest (estimated to currently be 5,069 years old).
While all of this is interesting, as well as important to man's well-being, I compare a forest to the vivid draperies in an otherwise bleak apartment. Trees provide the backdrop to our views of the world and landscapes without them are often cold, somber or grim. Fall colors differ around the lower 48, with the yellows and light greens of the Rocky Mountains, the oranges and reds of New England and the full spectrum in the country's midsection. All are beautiful, sometimes spectacular, and we always look forward to drives through the colorful foliage in autumn, no matter where we happen to be.
I did have some nice comments offered by friends, fans and followers on this subject. Here are a few of those (some have been edited or paraphrased):
BLSMSS- Pine trees make me happy with the sweet pine smell, reminding me of growing up in Upstate New York. There are other types of trees, like the Magnolia, that makes me happy seeing the beauty of the pedals and enjoying the sweet smell.
Packratphyls- A lovely maple tree gives me awesome shade in 90-degree temps and in March it gives me sap to make into maple syrup!
Canadian Hellie- Trees are so useful for making furniture, homes and a host of other items. The grain in some wood is amazing. I like trees while driving, as each one seems to be a different shade of green. In the fall we take special drives to see the fall colors. I love to see a lonely tree in the middle of a farmer's field and sometimes trees are markers for how much further there is to go to get to your destination. I also think the animals and birds appreciate them more than I do! Trees do a lot for us, they provide shade and oxygen. Sometimes trees burn out of control and some trees die due to specific bugs that invade them. Probably the best tree of all is the Christmas tree, all decorated in the living room.
Nadyne H.- I'm pretty emotional about trees. In fact, when Denver cut down a large tree in our yard some years back, I wanted to hurt the tree cutters and move! There are few things in nature I love more than trees. I always prefer to park our RV in the trees and if we can't, I don't really want to stay. Staying near the giant redwood forest in California was tree Disneyland for me! Every where I looked filled me with pure joy!! Everyone in this country should see the redwood forest before they die. Absolutely should be a bucket list trip!
See Spot Run RV- Many things make me happy about trees. They are natural air conditioners for one. The flowering trees are beautiful and other trees make wonderful scents. I also love the colors you get from trees in the fall. Many times it is just the different shades of green. Trees are wonderful creatures.
Benji- Ted Nugent, that maniac 70’s rocker, has planted over a million trees on his properties for conservation.
RicU- (Adding to Benji's comment) Nugent planted the trees to defend his property against developers, to counter environmental blunders of the time (yes, my ‘68 wasn’t as friendly as a bicycle but still would take it back.), for personal privacy and to lower his taxes. Smart man.
Topsarge- Trees. What is not to love about them? Having traveled to more than a few places on this planet, I have seen a lot of trees on this place called Earth -- so many varieties, yet I could not tell you the specific name of any one of them. I have allergies to pine trees, whether walking or traveling down the white line highway. I enjoy looking at the trees, any trees (the scenery in the desert is so boring). In Thailand there are trees that grow something called Thai chilies and they are HOT, so hot, I think they register around 100,000 Scoville Heat Units (compare that with the Jalapeno pepper, which measures as high as 8,000 SHU's). Some trees actually grow things that likely do not register on the SHU scale, such as fruit, citrus, and nuts of all sorts. Never get in a hurry to start harvest some type of nuts, with some oak trees that do not start to produce until the tree is around 35 years. The Belgium White Oak, when skilled hands work with it, can turn out some fantastic household furniture. Now, some trees are worth looking at without ever getting tired of the look. The Redwoods and Sequoias are magnificent trees and they have the audacity to grow extremely old and very tall. I am very glad to have the opportunity to see these awesome trees up close and personal and ponder one thousand plus years of living history. This is why I love to simply look and wonder about trees and their awesomeness and what they provide to us meager humans.
Shelley A.- I like the smell of the forest when I am hiking, especially after rain. It's fun to see the different colors but it is also very relaxing.
Ayub B.- Every tree evokes in me a feeling of sacredness associated with it. For me, it is not just a commercial or an ecological entity, it is certainly much more than meets the eye. Shakespeare was so correct when he wrote, "Tongues in trees, books in brooks, sermons in stones, good in everything."
Sandra E.- I'm a huge tree hugger... My home is covered with huge oak trees. They shade me and are so beautiful. It hurts me to trim a limb, even one that hits me in the face. A few years ago my two sisters-in-law took me on a road trip up the California coast, through the Redwoods, to Portland for our niece's wedding. The views were OUTSTANDING!
Jack Huber is a writer, blogger, poet and photographer. Like many, he is concerned about the psyche of our planet's inhabitants and wants to try to improve his little corner of it.