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

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