Tree Facts, Terms, & Fun: Plus 4 Tips

Apr 16, 2021 | Family Life

With global warming on the rise, there IS something we can do about it. Plant more trees! Trees gobble up all those bad emissions, they actually filter the air. They also help clean our water, and provide so much for us, humans, to survive and thrive. One of my favorite things to do in giving back is to plant a tree and take care of it.

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

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This is Bruce the Blue Spruce, a tree from my little ‘farm’.

My childhood was surrounded by trees. That’s probably why I love them so much. They were my friends when I didn’t have anyone to play with, they were my listener when no one else would listen, and they were my entertainment when I didn’t want to watch TV.

No, I’m not a major tree hugger. But I do my part. In fact, on my vision board, I have a ‘tree farm’. About five years ago I started my own little tree farm in our backyard. I bought pots, dirt, and saplings of Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir, White Pine, Sugar Maples, and Burr Oak. There has been so much joy in watching are caring for my tree-babies. In the Spring I would sell them for a discount. And I’m happy to say they are all now in their forever homes. Note: we live on less than an acre, so if you have any kind of space, you can do this too!

A few tree facts & benefits

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Trees have many benefits, they reduce air pollution, enrich habitats, bring beauty to the eye, shelter us, provide food, provide material, and comfort us in many ways. The book, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, is a must-have! Did you know trees communicate with others through their root system? That they ‘scream’ when they need water? Even if you don’t have an interest in trees, you will after you read this book!

There are about 3 to 6 billion trees cut down globally per year. That’s a lot of trees! No wonder our atmosphere is so polluted. Mahatma Gandhi has a valid point, “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”  Again, if you asked me what would reverse global warming, let alone our own well-being, I’d say to plant trees! This is such a simple task with huge rewards. And it’s incredibly EASY!

Tree terminology: Get to know the lingo

When talking about trees there are a few words you might want to familiarize yourself with. Here are the most common terms you’ll run into; ‘thank you, to the State of Maine’ for this reference.

  • Conifer: Cone bearing trees; the “evergreens”. I get this messed up with Deciduous all the time!
  • Crown [of the tree]: Branches, twigs, buds, leaves, flowers, and fruit. This is the big part on top.
  • Deciduous [leaves]: All leaves drop in the autumn; not evergreen. Think of ‘dead’, as in dead leaves, to remember this one.
  • Fruit: The seed-bearing part of a tree
  • Habitat: The place where a plant usually grows, for example, dry, wet, rocky.
  • Hardwood: Term used to describe all broadleaved trees. These tree species are deciduous, retaining their leaves only one growing season.
  • Inner bark: Conducts usable food from the leaves to the cambium (tree cells) to nourish it or to storage areas in the wood.
  • Leaf: Stalk and blade of hardwoods: needles and scales of conifers.
  • Leaflets: Smaller leaf units or leaflets which together form a compound leaf.
  • Outer bark: The area of the tree trunk composed of dead cells. It insulates and protects inner tissues from disease infections and drying.
  • Photosynthesis: This is the process that occurs in the leaves. From energy produced by sunlight, the leaves combine carbon dioxide from the air and water from the soil to produce carbohydrates. Oxygen is released in the process. Carbohydrates plus fats and proteins are the plant foods necessary for growth and respiration of the tree.
  • Roots: Root hairs absorb water and mineral salts from the soil. Larger roots anchor the tree and store nitrogen and carbohydrates.
  • Softwood: Term used to describe all needle-leaved trees. These species are typically evergreen, retaining their leaves through two or more growing seasons.
  • Trunk: The main body of the tree.
Source: maine.gov/dacf/mfs/projects/fall_foliage/kids/glossary.html

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4 Tips with Planting Trees

1. Give it significance

Plant a tree to represent an important time in your life. You’ll take better care of it knowing there is symbolism behind it. In fact, I’ve been known to give my trees a fun name, like Bruce the Spruce, my son named a Maple, Kevin. We have a lot of fun with it!

2. Plant properly

When planting a tree in the ground, make sure to dig a wide hole and only as deep as the pot. Carefully remove the tree from the pot and spread out the roots. Cover with dirt and then a 2-inch layer of mulch. Water the tree every day for two weeks. And wrap the trunk in the cold winter months to protect it from sunscald and rodents. Do this until it’s big enough to thrive on its own, probably when the trunk is at a 4-5 inch diameter. You can download my tree activity printable for all the instructions. Go here to get it.

3. Get a tree

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Don’t know where to get a tree? Try a local nursery and opt for native trees, trees that thrive in their environment. For instance, White Spruce is a native tree to Michigan, but Blue Spruce is native to Colorado. Your local conservation office should have trees to buy. You can also get a tree on Amazon! Seriously, you can get a Sugar Maple and many other types of trees.

4. Check out Arbor Day Foundation

Go to the Arbor Day Foundation for more facts and information about trees. If you need to purchase some trees, they can handle that too. Or you can make a small donation and they’ll send you free trees as a thank you. They have loads of information in caring for your tree. Don’t have a place to plant? No problem. The Arbor Day Foundation is happy to accept donations, they will then plant trees where desperately needed.

Trees are the best monuments that a man can erect to his own memory. They speak his praises without flattery, and they are blessings to children yet unborn.

Lord Orrery, 1749

Let’s make the world a better place for ourselves and for future generations. Make Earth Day every day in some way or form. Don’t forget to get your tree printable for your kids! It’s super fun and educational. Get it here on Etsy.

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