The Role of Wind in a Tree’s Life

By Anupum Pant

Remember the biosphere 2? In short, it’s a miniature version of our planet, now owned by the university of Arizona, constructed for scientists to study how the planet’s living systems actually work. Learnings from this tiny planet enabled scientists to innovate and come up with new ideas related to growth of plants etc. Or that is what they thought when they planned to make this biosphere.

The major discovery from it was something they had never expected. The most interesting thing they learnt from it was the importance of wind in a plant’s life. Who’d have thought!

In the biosphere 2, they had trees growing faster than they would grow in the wild. Also, they found that these trees wouldn’t completely mature. Before they could, they used to collapse. Later it was found that this was caused by the lack of wind in the biosphere. And it turns out, wind plays a major role in a trees life. The presence of wind makes a tree stronger, it is thus able to mature and not fall down due to its own weight.

When plants and trees grow in the wild, the wind constantly keeps them moving. This causes a stress in the wooden load bearing structure of the tree. So, to compensate, the tree manages to grow something called the reaction wood (or stress wood). This stress wood usually has a different structure (in terms of cellulose or lignin content and more) and is able to position the tree where it’d get the best light, or other optimum resources. This is the reason why trees are able to contort towards best light and still survive loads in even awkward shapes. A contorted building like that would easily fall. The tree is able to grow in a more solid manner – thanks to the reaction wood.

If there’s no wind, like in the biosphere 2, the trees end up being much weaker and aren’t able to survive for long. This happens in homes too. Plants grown indoors, without any kind of wind hitting them on a regular basis tend to become weak. So, before they are planted outside in the wild conditions, their structure has to be strengthened by causing stress.

Remember, stress is what makes a tree strong enough to sustain the wear and tear that it’d face later in life.

22 thoughts on “The Role of Wind in a Tree’s Life”

  1. It is very inspiring to hear about how nature works. I reminds me of the way a little chick has to push out of the eggs in order to gain strength. Thank you

    1. Like children being raped and murdered: must be God’s will, right? Sorry, not sorry I don’t believe in such a horrible deity.

      1. So God rapes them?..no, fallen humans rape and kill them. Did God create robots or humans that can think for themselves? So you’re probably one that wants God to intervene only upon request…until then…stay in heaven….

    2. ^This was just annoying to read.

      Now if I get a chance to forget god and all his glory, it is very amusing to see how the world works. It is the same with various plants in gardening and agriculture. Some would be weaker in long periods without wind (and when wind suddenly got powerful, they would get chopped down).

      This is also important for tomato plants. Notice that some (in those eco glass houses) need support and or trimming to keep themselves upright when they start to bear fruit.

      The animal eco system is also intriguing. To bad people are busy shooting and eating them. Too bad a chicken only lives 20-30 (or even less in many situations) days before it’s slaughtered…

  2. This is intriguing. It reminds me of how God allows his children to experience storms in our lives to strengthen our faith and character .

    1. I think the point has been missed, or is still “blowin’ in the wind”. It’s about unintended consequences and how a minor over look can have a large significance or teach us about our natural world. Maybe the only thing that has been around longer than trees and plants is the wind. Scientists wanted to find out about plants in the natural world so they set one up, forgetting to provide for wind. Even “failed” experiments in SCIENCE can teach us something if only we know where, or how, to look.
      There is no need for a God anywhere in this discussion.

      1. Yikes! Relax Bobbie B. Our friends are simply using this lesson from the natural world as a metaphor that helps them grasp the relationship between adversity and developing a strong spiritual life.

  3. Not only is there no need for god in this discussion, the tying in of God not only shows you’re ignorance of the natural world but also proves your inability to accept that SCIENCE has taught us everything about any subject you can think of, than religion has taught us about anything.

    1. The place for God in the discussion is made by the distinct possibility that he with incredible wisdom and attention to detail has created the amazing world in which science can only study and examine what already exists. I love science, I love learning about our marvelous earth and universe that is so meticulously set and balanced that ,as in the case of biosphere 2, it’s outrageously difficult to replicate.

  4. You don’t have to be religious to appreciate how amazing nature is. All the different (yet very similar) gods people worship are used as a crutch for the unexplainable and religion is constantly adapting to new science as it is undeniable and they fear becoming irrelevant and exposed for what religion really is. A form of mental conditioning, fear based control, that takes advantage and gives false hope to those who are weak or were involuntarily indoctrinated.

    1. Just as biosphere 2 is a valid and revealing experiment in nature, even though it failed through short sightedness and missed minute details in the mission of actually replicating our real bioshere (planet Earth): even so religion is usually a shortsighted, lacking and failed attempt at representing an awesome magnificent creator.

  5. it is interesting the God is immediately replaced with the word religion. God stands alone. He is not a religion at all and creation serves as revelation for his existance. Only a God could create the biosphere that houses all creation. Mankind has been pre-occupied with the existence of “God” since earliest recorded history. There just must be a God, every other explanation is weak and quite a far reach. Religion is an entirely different topic.

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