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15 Astounding Facts About Trees

Did you know that Earth has more than 60,000 known tree species? There is so much to learn about our life giving trees!
No Joke: 7 Fun Facts About Trees

It’s hard to overstate the importance of trees. Their debut more than 300 million years ago was a turning point for Earth, helping transform its surface into a bustling utopia for land animals. Trees have fed, housed and otherwise nurtured countless creatures over time — including our own arboreal ancestors.

Modern humans rarely live in trees, but that doesn’t mean we can live without them. About 3 trillion trees currently exist, enriching habitats from old-growth forests to city streets. Yet despite our deep-rooted reliance on trees, we tend to take them for granted. People clear millions of forested acres every year, often for short-term rewards despite long-term risks like desertification, wildlife declines and climate change. Science is helping us learn to use trees’ resources more sustainably, and to protect vulnerable forests more effectively, but we still have a long way to go.

Earth now has 46 percent fewer trees than it did 12,000 years ago, when agriculture was in its infancy. Yet despite all the deforestation since then, humans still can’t shake an instinctive fondness for trees. Their mere presence has been shown to make us calmer, happier and more creative, and often boosts our appraisal of property value. Trees hold deep symbolism in many religions, and cultures around the planet have long appreciated what a walk in the woods can do.

We still periodically pause to honor trees, with ancient holidays like Tu Bishvat as well as newer tributes like Arbor Day, the International Day of Forests or World Environment Day. In hopes of helping that spirit linger longer throughout the year, here are a few lesser-known facts about these gentle, generous giants:

1. Earth has more than 60,000 known tree species.

2. More than half of all tree species exist only in a single country.

3. Trees didn’t exist for the first 90 percent of Earth’s history.

4. Before trees, Earth was home to fungi that grew 26 feet tall.

Tree Shapes - Organically Green
Photo Credit: Organically Green

5. The first known tree was a leafless, fern-like plant from New York.

6. Scientists thought this dinosaur-era tree went extinct 150 million years ago — but then it was found growing wild in Australia.

7. Some trees emit chemicals that attract enemies of their enemies.

8. Trees in a forest can ‘talk’ and share nutrients through an underground internet built by soil fungi.

9. Most tree roots stay in the top 18 inches of soil, but they can also grow above ground or dive a few hundred feet deep.

10. A large oak tree can consume about 100 gallons of water per day, and a giant sequoia can drink up to 500 gallons daily.

11. Trees help us breathe — and not just by producing oxygen.

12. Adding one tree to an open pasture can increase its bird biodiversity from almost zero species to as high as 80.

13. Trees can lower stress, raise property values and fight crime.

14. This tree has been alive since woolly mammoths still existed.

15. A large oak tree can drop 10,000 acorns in one year.


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