Macro Monday

by Hannah Keene

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New growth on a coniferous tree                      Image: Zebras Child 2019

I’ve always been amazed that the new growth on a plant is a much brighter green than the older leaves.

Fun Science Facts

Did you know:

  • Some examples of coniferous trees: cypress, firs, redwoods, pines, cedars, spruces, junipers, etc.
  • The needles on coniferous trees are actually their leaves.
  • These leaves are adapted so that they survive better in harsher and colder conditions than broad leaves can.
  • There is a thick, waxy cuticle that waterproofs the leaves. This helps them retain more water than broad leaves, and also helps them survive in harsher weather conditions.
  • However, there are some species of pine that can absorb water through their needles and then transport that water to the roots of the tree where the water can then be properly distributed. This is especially helpful if these pines grow in a fog belt, as the fog itself can provide water to the tree.
  • The multitude of needles enable the trees to collect far more sunlight than broad leaves would. The sunlight is necessary for photosynthesis.
  • Some coniferous trees in North America can grow to be 75 meters tall and can live to be 500 years old.

Did you ever wonder how in the world a 75 meter tall tree can transport water all the way from its roots to the crown of the tree? My wonderful university professor for freshman biology all those decades ago gave us this answer:

Conifers have a vascular system just like our veins. In other words, the tree pumps the water upwards a certain distance, and then some small flaps come down, preventing the water from flowing back downward. When the next pump of water comes up, it pushes the higher water into the next chamber above and so on. This is just how our circulatory system gets our deoxygenated blood back to our heart for re-oxygenation.

And how super cool is that?