The secret life of trees? Who knew there was even such a thing!?? Plant care is becoming an increasingly important subject, especially now that more Americans are becoming plant parents.
In fact, the 2019 National Gardening Survey revealed that American gardeners have spent about $50 billion on lawn and garden retail sales.
That number is only growing since the global pandemic hit – families that never even scratched their dirt before were all of a sudden planting gardens and trees to guarantee food for their families. My folks added a pear tree to their mini orchard of an apricot and cherry tree – and wanted an apple tree but there were none available!
The Secret Life of Trees
Therapist Lily Ewing explained that this trend is also related to our human need to create and nurture connections. Whenever gardeners provide their plants with the right amount of sunlight, water, and nutrients, they’re rewarded with growth — from strong roots to lush green leaves.
Given how plants respond, many are curious about how they actually feel about this care. That said, do plants hold a secret that most of us don’t know?
Plants have life cycles and unique needs
Plants go through an intricate life cycle where they start as small seeds before growing into either delicate flowers or lofty trees. In the case of trees, throughout their life cycle from seed to fully-grown tree, the amount of care that they receive furthers their survival and progress.
Sprouts with the right light and soil requirements will be able to produce their food via photosynthesis. This provides them with enough energy to transform their green and delicate stem into a dark tree trunk, with their leaves growing and expanding throughout.
It’s important to note that the right conditions are a requirement for any plant to thrive. For instance, trees subjected to cold and dry winters lose their leaves and produce less chlorophyll. And when non-aquatic plants stand in too much water, they can develop root rot, causing their leaves and limbs to lose their function.
However, a forester named Peter Wohlleben actually discovered that trees go through hidden processes of life, death, and regeneration. One phenomenon that he discovered is that plants seem to have families, as well. Tree parents live beside their children and continue to support their sprouts as they grow.
On the other hand, trees that live on their own tend to die at an earlier age because they have a harder time growing alone. This has made many individuals wonder about whether plants have emotions about their environment as well as the care that they receive.
Plants can respond, but can they feel?
Besides reacting to the amount of care they get, plants can also respond to certain stimuli. Researchers have noted that plants exhibit extraordinary reactions towards multiple things. If you have a common sunflower at home, you’ll notice that it moves its head from the east to the west every day so that it can follow the sun.
Meanwhile, a carnivorous plant called the Venus flytrap also reacts by snapping itself shut whenever they sense insects on their surface.
Most importantly, researchers have noted that plants can send signals. Through chemical and electrical signals, plants can register and respond to factors like rain, wounds, burns, touch, and even light/darkness. For instance, the common sagebrush releases chemicals into the air whenever they’re damaged. These chemicals help other plants understand that there are dangerous threats nearby.
Isn’t. That. Cool????
But while these are very smart responses to the environment, researchers have gone on the record to say that plants cannot feel emotions like pain or happiness. They can react and send signals about their surroundings, but they do not have an intelligent consciousness that allows them to feel emotions.
These smart reactions are simply adaptive behaviors that let them process and respond to external factors. Moreover, plants send electrical signals regarding their surroundings without processing any information. That means they can send warnings about danger even if they aren’t able to process and understand the fire or the pests that are harming them.
There is so much more to learn!
There’s a lot about plants that people don’t know about. They have needs and life cycles like other living things, but they do not possess the ability to feel emotions. It’s interesting to know how much they can do, despite not feeling pain, happiness, or sadness. But even then, it’s important that we care for them and the rest of the environment because they’re a vital part of the world.
I know I did a tree life cycle for you before – but today want to share a conifer unit study with you. I can’t talk about the secret life of trees unless I mention these babies!
What IS a conifer?
A conifer is a tree that bears cones and needle-like or scale-like leaves that are typically evergreen. Conifers are of major importance as the source of softwood, and also supply resins and turpentine.
Think Christmas trees!
Those are probably the most common conifers you know by sight. Christmas trees are usually young or dwarf pine, fir, or spruces trees. The most popular festive trees are the Douglas fir (which is actually a pine tree), the Noble fir, Fraser fir, Scots pine, Norway spruce, or the Nordmann fir.
Let’s have some fun!
My pine tree investigation set will teach you a little more about trees – A pine tree life cycle, pine tree measuring, an observation worksheet, parts of a pine tree, parts of a pine cone, and also a pine cone investigation worksheet.
Just for fun, I threw in a Christmas Tree decoration activity – seeing as Christmas is just around the corner. If you are really a Christmas fanatic, you need to check out my Mom’s site: Joyful Xmas. She has a ton of fun stuff on there
Now – what kinds of things can you observe with pine trees? Think about you see, smell, touch, and yes – you can even taste! Are the needles long or short? Are they on the sticks individually or in clusters? Are they soft or prickly? Are there pine cones? What do they look like? Is it leaking sap?
There are so many things you can check out!
Get your Pine Tree Investigation Set now!
No worries for those who don’t “do Christmas” – I have the Christmas Tree page separate.