Photo: Patrice78500
RESEARCH

Understanding the Shyness of Trees

It's common to attribute human traits to other living things  – in the case of some tree species, we have observed an instance of their shyness. As they grow to their full height, and create a fuller canopy, individual trees are often reluctant to touch each other, creating branch like cracks in the flora above.
Photo: Dag Peak
Some hypotheses suggest that the interlocking of canopy branches leads to “reciprocal pruning” of trees near each other. Trees in windy areas suffer physical damage as they collide with each other during strong storms. As a result of these collisions and damage to branches, what's known as crown shyness can be observed. Another theory, is that the trees avoid shade on the very tips of stalks and leaves, so leave a small gap when growing to maximise sunlight.

Either way, this aversion to touching creates a beautiful mosaic of tree crowns up above. Make sure to look up next time you're on a nature walk!
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