Ep. 1 A Perplexing Mystery
Written by kenneth on October 26, 2021
Tree of the week: Pacific Madrone (Arbutus menziesii)
Special characteristics: Broadleaf yet evergreen. Thick leathery leaves last through the winter.
-Salish (say-lish) Natives regard the Arbutus as sacred. Stands for Protection (held in the flood) and knowledge (can move to always reach sunlight). An excellent neighbor. Skilled at finding sunlight and distributing nutrients to surrounding plants through it’s network of mycorrhizal fungi. Persistent in root and stem growth. Recovers quickly after disturbances.
Bark peels off creating a beautiful contrast of color up its trunk.
Mystery of the Week: How water gets up the tree’s trunk
Capillary action: What happens when filling a cup of water above the lip without spilling.
With such small tubes this can account for up to 3 meters, but no more.
Transpiration: Leaves/needles of a mature tree can transpire hundreds of gallons a day. Creates a suction in the tree drawing water up due to pressure and the bonding forces
The real mystery is that a tree can suck up the same amount if not more water with it’s leaves off in the winter. In the words of Peter Wohlleben in his book “The Hidden Life of Trees”, “So many questions remain unanswered. Perhaps we are poorer for having lost a possible explanation or richer for having gained a mystery. But aren’t both possibilities equally intriguing?”
Sadly there was a technical issue recording so There is only the first 20 minutes recorded. It’s still intrestng and a good intodection to the show so give it a listen!
Below are some books and sites I’ve read in preperation for this episode:
Wohlleben, P. (2015). The Hidden Life of Trees.
Jensen, E. C. (2010). Trees to Know in Oregon. Oregon State University Extension Service.
The Pacific Madrone | Salish Magazine. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://salishmagazine.org/the-pacific-madrone/
Xylem and Phloem—Cundiff Biology Portfolio. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2021, from https://sites.google.com/site/cundiffbiologyportfolio/home/relationship-of-structure-and-function/xylem-and-phloem