A Massive 3200 Year Old Tree in a Single Picture

By Anupum Pant

If there’s one place I’d like to visit, it is the part of California where you find giant sequoia trees. The Giant forest is one such grove in the western Sierra Nevada of California. It is home to five of the ten most massive trees on the planet.

With a tree trunk measuring 36.5 feet in diameter, the Giant Sherman in the Giant forest grove, is the largest of the trees in this grove. It is 275 feet tall! (and yet there are taller trees in existence – Hyperion – again in California, which is about 379 feet tall)

While the President tree, 3200 years old, is another one of these Giant sequoia. It has seen hundred generations of humans pass by. Throughout its life it has survived a number of storms, fires, winters, earthquakes, and climate changes. And even today it grows faster than most other trees on the planet, adding one cubic meter of wood every year.

Its trunk measures around 27 feet in diameter.  In height, its topmost point measuring at 247 feet, is slightly shorter than the Giant Sherman. Still, the tree is massive. Its huge branches hold about 2 billion needles (leaves), which is more than any other tree on earth.

It is so huge that until recently it hadn’t been captured in a single photograph (excluding satellite shots and other such smart ideas). A team from National geographic magazine joined scientists to study and photograph the tree.

the president tree

An Incredibly Simple Way to Kill A Tree

By Anupum Pant

Background

Of course, killing a tree is something I’d never want to do. I see them as old and wise people who have grown and matured for years. Plus they give us so much in return. And yet sometimes, they say, there are good reasons to kill a tree. I’ll probably never understand.

Anyway, I thought it’s good to know, just for the sake of knowing that there is an incredibly simple technique that is often used to kill trees (for legit reasons) and is widely known among horticulturists. I learnt about it just today, and I felt it was worth sharing.

It’s called Girdling (also known as  ring barking or ring-barking). Or, a technique which involves removal / peeling of a ring of bark from a tree, and the phloem layer (Like shown in the picture above). Yes, that’s it, this kills a tree. And it’s slow death. A tree which gets girdled dies gradually in about a year or more.

This is why it works…

The central part of the tree trunk (wooden part) is involved in taking the nutrients and water up to the leaves. The leaves then get exposed in the sun and mix in carbon dioxide to make sugar and other reduced carbon compounds. Most of us know that. But this is what not many know…

The outer part of the trunk – the bark and the phloem layer – also has a solid function that sustains growth and function. It’s responsible to carry the sugar (and other stuff) made by the leaves, back to the root. That is basically food to sustain growth and function of the roots. If that doesn’t reach the roots, the roots don’t receive what is required for their growth and function. Girdling does exactly that – cuts off the down-flow of food. As a result, the root dies and with it dies the whole tree. All of this happens very slowly.

To be noted

Jumping the Girdle: Some times, trees are able to repair this damage. It’s called a jumped girdle. To prevent that from happening, often smear herbicide over the girdled area.

Better Fruits: This technique is also used by some farmers to force the tree to bear better fruits – as no sugar goes down into the roots – the fruits are usually bigger and better if they come from a girdled tree. Of course these better fruits come with a price.

Girdling is particularly a good way to end trees like Aspens because as we know from Pando, many other Aspens can sprout up from the roots and cause a bigger mess if just the top part of this tree is cut off.

Girdling is a better way to kill a tree because it gives the environment time to adjust, also it is cheaper and prevents damage to the other delicate plants around the tree.

[Source]

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Pando – An Organism That Weighs 6 Million KG

By Anupum Pant

Blue whales weigh about 150 tons each. That is a 150,000 kg animal we are talking about! Incredible! It is the largest animal to have ever lived on earth. Yes, bigger than any of the dinosaurs. Just for the perspective, the heart of a blue whale can weigh about 600 kg and is almost the size of a Volkswagen Beetle car. A human can fit in its arteries. But, if you thought no other organism can be heavier than a blue whale, you are in for a surprise.

The heaviest organism we’ve ever found, lives in the Fishlake national forest, Utah. In fact, the organism itself is the forest. This forest is a Vatican-city-sized forest which looks like it has several identical trees in a normal forest. Only what looks like identical trees in a normal forest, is actually a single huge tree.

The absolutely humongous tree is known to have come out of a single seed about 80,000 years back. With time, it went on to spread its roots and has cloned itself by popping out about 47,000 other extant clones.

Since it is a single huge tree, it indeed acts like a single huge tree. When one of the shoots (tree) is in need of nutrients, the interconnected root system makes sure that the tree gets what it needs. Also, these trees transition from winter to spring simultaneously, just like a single huge tree would.

MinuteEarth explains it better in the video below: