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8 Awesome Facts About Trees
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Trees are all around us. From large, ancient forests to the saplings planted in our yards, trees are an important part of Earth’s ecosystem. They provide shade, oxygen, natural splendor, and many other benefits. You probably see them every day and walk right on by. But stop and think for a moment: How much do you really know about trees? Many people don’t know a lot of facts about trees. That’s why we created this roundup of 8 awesome facts about trees – so read on to learn more about these beautiful and important living giants!

#1 There Are Over 60,000 Known Species of Trees on Earth.

According to the results of a massive scientific effort published in 2017, there are 60,065 species of trees currently known to science. They include Abarema abbottii, a vulnerable limestone-bound tree that is only found in the Dominican Republic, and Zygophyllum kaschgaricum, a rare tree that’s native to China and Kyrgyzstan.

#2 Over Half of All Known Tree Species Are Single-Country Endemics.

Almost 58% of all tree species are single-country endemics, meaning that they only grow naturally within the borders of a single nation. Due to the biodiversity in their forests, Brazil, Columbia, and Indonesia are home to the highest numbers of endemic tree species. Australia, China, Madagascar, and Papua New Guinea all have high numbers of endemic tree species as well.

#3 Trees Began Populating Earth 385 Million Years Ago.

Trees have been around for a long time. They first began to populate Earth 385 million years ago, toward the end of the Devonian Period. (During the previous Silurian Period, plants had begun colonizing the land, but they made additional evolutionary progress during the Devonian Period.) In fact, it was during the Devonian Period that lycophytes, horsetails, and ferns grew to large sizes and formed the Earth’s first forests.

#4 The First Known Trees May Have Been Leafless.

Just like other forms of life on Earth, trees evolved over time. The earliest type of tree currently known to us is Wattieza. It was identified from 385-million-year-old fossils found in present-day New York. Wattieza is part of a prehistoric plant family thought to be ancestors of ferns. These trees were 26 feet tall and are thought to have had frond-like branches with “branchlets” (similar to the appearance of a bottlebrush) instead of leaves. Scientists believe that Wattieza trees played an important role in forming the first known forests on Earth.

#5 Trees Can Help Combat Climate Change.

Trees remove carbon dioxide from the air and store it while releasing oxygen in exchange. A mature tree is capable of absorbing over 48 lbs. of carbon dioxide each year. Over the course of a year, an acre of mature trees can absorb an amount of carbon dioxide that's equal to the quantity produced by a car driven 26,000 miles. In fact, trees remove more than 18,000 tons of air pollution in the city of Chicago every year!

#6 Trees Can Live for a Very Long Time.

The oldest tree in the world is an unnamed Great Basin bristlecone pine (Pinus longaeva) living in the White Mountains of California. The tree is 5,062 years old. (For context, the tree is older than wolly mammoths, who died out around 4,000 year ago.) The second-oldest individual tree in the world is Methuselah, a 4,845-year-old Great Basin bristlecone pine also located in the White Mountains of California. The oldest tree in Europe that has been officially dated is a 1,075-year-old Bosnian pine (Pinus heldreichii) in Greece named Adonis. In addition to these individual trees, there are several clonal colonies of trees (a clonal colony is a group of genetically identical trees connected by a single root system) that are even older. For example, the Pando clonal colony in Fishlake National Forest in Utah is estimated to be 80,000 years old!

#7 Trees Can Grow Extremely Tall.

Scientists have calculated the theoretical maximum tree height to be somewhere between 400 and 426 feet high. Currently, the tallest tree in the world is a California redwood that stands at 379 feet tall, which is slightly taller than the length of a football field. Old redwoods that have since been cut down may have stood even taller; perhaps they even reached the theoretical maximum height for trees.

#8 Large Oak Trees Can Drop Up to 10,000 Acorns During an Acorn Boom.

Acorns are a major food source for over 100 vertebrate species in the United States alone. This means that most of the acorns that are dropped never get the chance to germinate and become trees. Oak trees have boom and bust cycles, which may have been developed to increase the chances of some of the dropped acorns becoming trees rather than food. During an acorn boom, or mast year, a large oak tree can drop as many as 10,000 acorns.


# 9 The Number of Trees on Earth Is Greater Than the Number of Stars in Our Galaxy.

NASA estimates that there are 100 billion to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. However, a 2015 paper that was published in the scientific journal Nature estimated that there are around 3.04 trillion trees on Earth. To put that in perspective even more, there are currently about 7.5 billion humans on Earth. This means that trees far outnumber both humans and stars!

Want to learn even more amazing facts about trees? Watch this video!

Want to learn more about the world around you? Check out our roundup of 7 fascinating facts about animals!

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