Nautilus

The Harsh, Hidden Lessons of Tree School

Thirst is harder for trees to endure than hunger, because they can satisfy their hunger whenever they want. Like a baker who always has enough bread, a tree can satisfy a rumbling stomach right away using photosynthesis. But even the best baker cannot bake without water, and the same goes for a tree: Without moisture, food production stops.

A mature beech tree can send more than 130 gallons of water a day coursing through its branches and leaves, and this is what it does as long as it can draw enough water up from below. However, the moisture in the soil would soon run out if the tree were to do that every day in summer. In the warmer seasons, it doesn’t rain nearly enough to replenish water levels in the desiccated soil. Therefore, the tree stockpiles water in winter.

Raimund Linke

In winter, the tree is not consuming as much water, because most plants take a break from growing at that time of year. Together with below ground accumulation of spring showers, the stockpiled water usually lasts until the onset of summer. But in many years, water then gets scarce. After

Stai leggendo un'anteprima, registrati per continuare a leggere.

Altro da Nautilus

Nautilus8 min letti
Do We Share DNA with ET?: If there’s life beyond Earth, the genetic code might be our common bond.
The primary difficulty of interstellar communication is finding common ground between ourselves and other intelligent entities about which we can know nothing with absolute certainty. This common ground would be the basis for a universal language tha
Nautilus14 min lettiScience
An Existential Crisis in Neuroscience: We’re mapping the brain in amazing detail—but our brain can’t understand the picture.
On a chilly evening last fall, I stared into nothingness out of the floor-to-ceiling windows in my office on the outskirts of Harvard’s campus. As a purplish-red sun set, I sat brooding over my dataset on rat brains. I thought of the cold windowless
Nautilus10 min letti
What Are the Odds of Alien Contact?: Bringing the Drake Equation up to date.
The only intelligent life forms we know of reside here on Earth. But that hasn’t stopped us from trying to answer the question: “Are we alone?” The search for extraterrestrial intelligence now has an accepted acronym, SETI, and a growing number of in