Free Essay on Trees

When Trees start out in the wild, their life begins in an area where that type of tree is adapted to and tolerant of the conditions of that particular site. As the trees mature, the site conditions may change. People may modify the land by building houses or office buildings. The building of these structures most times take away an assortment of brush and small plants, thus altering the natural landscape.. Some trees are tolerant of these man made conditions like Oaks and Elms. The types that are not tolerant and cannot adapt only have one choice, and that is too die. (9)

Another situation that may occur is the planting of young trees in an urban site. At this young age, it allows its self to become more tolerant to an environment. But, sometimes this tolerance level is not taken into consideration. Trees may be picked just because of their color or size only. This may not be the best situation, and the tree usually dies. In that case, there will be another chance to put a more tolerant tree in that area. The trees that do survive in this condition are in so much shock after being taken out of its tolerant environment, and being put in a none tolerant environment, that their limits are being pushed to the edge. When this happens, the result will be poor performance, and a non-attractive tree. These trees that are not at their peak condition are more prone to contract diseases and attract unwanted visiting insects. The trees that have problems with diseases and insects need to be sprayed often to control these problems. Whitcomb’s theory is if you plant the right tree in the right place, it does not require extensive maintenance. If the plant is healthy, it will look healthy, and require less maintenance. The plant then would look good in a particular landscape scene. But the site must be modified to fit the plant, because the plant cannot adapt to fit the site. (9)

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In a plant life span, there are many positive and negative factors that influence plant health. Because a tree or shrub is alive and green, doesn’t always mean it’s healthy. It may just be holding on. Unfortunately, there is no exact way to tell if a plant is doing well. For example in Azaleas, changes in the amount of micro-nutrients in the soil mix greatly affects the size of the plant and the size of the root system. In turn, experimenting with the micro-nutrients allows the plants to develop more roots below ground. The development of roots below ground absorbed more nutrients, which allow the leaves and flowering part to flourish. Nobody knows, though, even when getting the right combination of nutrients, how much a tree is going to grow. As refinement in soils and nutrients become more to the trees liking, many trees may grow taller. There are also other factors that may cut down on the growth of the tree, too. If one or two factors are not synchronized properly, you will get green leaves, but the overall tree size is not great. People try to rectify these problems by adding too much of a product. Nitrogen fertilizers that are put down in excess may cause more harm than help. Too much nitrogen would knock the proportionality off of the other level of nutrients and elements in the soil. Another misconception is that you can’t get too much phosphorus, and additional phosphorus helps make a good root system. When too much phosphorouss is added, it can tie up essential micro-nutrients, iron and manganese, and can suppress plant growth. In each species of plants, there is no ideal soil pH. The common misconception here is that the soil should be heavily limed to raise the pH to six and a half to seven. In reality, if the soil is a lower pH, trees will grow much better. (9)

When planning a landscape, it should be considered that there will be different conditions at different landscape sites. In order to pick the right plants for the conditions, climate and soil should be considered. When a tree or plant gets larger, the distance compounds, and the need to travel increases. Because of this, trees and plants must store large quantities of energy. The stored energy is used mostly during the growing season of the tree. After the growth is completed, energy will go back up to its normal level. If during the “growth flush”, there is an attempt to transplant this tree or shrub, the stress levels increase tremendously, which then invite secondary problems. (9)

Last but not least, water is most important to a trees’s health. The water serves as the transporter for all things the tree needs. It is also used for the cooling of the trees, which prevents over heating. Just as in man, if trees don’t sweat, their temperature will rise to a lethal point and cause damage to cell tissues. At the opposite end, too much water is not a good thing either. It can suffocate the roots. Also, soil complication can result in suffocation because gases cannot easily be exchanged between the soil and air. If the roots are not taken care of, it will severely effect the visible part of the tree and eventually the surrounding objects it decides to fall on. (9)

Alex Shigo was born in Duquesne Pennsylvania on May 8th 1930. He attended Waynesburg College in 1956 where he received a Bachelors of Science degree. He received his Masters and Ph.D. from West Virginia in 1959. He worked for the U.S Forestry Service from 1951 until 1985 as a chief scientist. He was also the project leader on discoloration and decay in forest trees. He has written many publications, which received many honors and awards. (6)

Survival means to remain alive under conditions that have the potential to kill. Trees have been evolving for hundreds, even thousands of years. In that time, they learned to survive together through connections. These connections to other trees helped to protect and defend themselves. Now, these connections that the trees have are being broken. The conditions that were threatening before are now happening more suddenly and rapidly. Man and their machines create these conditions. Also, now trees must learn how to survive individually. Now that trees are being cut down and split up, many things are effected. Warming trends may form which causes droughts. Soil also will erode from lack of roots holding the soil in place. (7)
When most people think of trees, they only think about the section above the ground. Those parts are important, but the unseen sections are even more important. If transplanting effects the roots, the tree will still look fine, but the roots may still be in shock. (7)

Survival of the tree depends on how it is treated, and what adjustments are made. If the tree can’t make adjustments or is not treated right, it will die. Man has caused this problem with its machines causing new wounds. This open wound may lead to infection and energy loss. This energy loss basically starves the tree to death. Because of man pushing against the trees, and modifying them to fit their needs, some trees have evolved into smaller versions of their parents. Still, the trees and any other organisms depend on eight major factors: energy, space to exist, water, essential elements, concentration of factors, time, temperature, and genetic code. If trees don’t adapt or get these conditions, they have no other choice but to die. If the trees do survive, they must adapt by being smaller and having a shorter reproductive cycle. The more fit trees are, they will adapt and reproduce. These healthy trees must be produced in orchards or in plantations so their healthy genes can be passed to their seedlings. This technique of growing and harvesting healthy trees will allow for more healthier and stronger generations of trees to come. (7)

After reviewing both Alex Shigo’s and Carl Whitcomb’s books, I noticed many differences and few similarities. Whitcomb talks about the establishment of the trees and how important the first couple of weeks and months are for root development. He also talks about planting conditions at landscape sites, and how the site must be changed for the plants’ survival. Soil mixtures are also very important because if the right concentration of micro-nutrients are introduced, it will greatly effect the growth patterns of the plants. (7)

Shigo talks about touching the trees so they may be understood. He also believes that the trees are all connected. This connection, Shigo says, between all the trees allows them to become stronger and resist insects and diseases. He also discusses the pruning process, and how mistakes are made which may cause great infections. Shigo also likes the idea of breeding trees to find the strongest genetic code that will allow trees to resist certain types of diseases. (7)

In some section of both books, there are some similarities. A big area of similarity is the discussion on roots. They both believe roots are the most important area of a tree, and how they should be taken care of (7, 9). They also talk about how motorized vehicles are a great detriment to trees (6, 8). But the main point they both agree on is that people do things to harm trees, such as building too close to preexisting trees and taking away their tolerant environment (7, 9).

Back in 1941, the first “Pirone’s Tree Maintenance” book was written. Since then, Pirone has written five books by himself. The sixth editions were co-authored by Pirone, and the seventh edition has been written in honor of Dr. P. P. Pirone. This last edition includes all the updated information including the latest techniques in selecting, planting, and protecting trees. (1)

Trees have a very important value in todays world. Many people look at trees because they are pleasing to the eye. Trees give value to houses because its shows an established residential area. Trees also have other beneficial effects. First, they supply much needed oxygen for us to breathe. Second, they take the carbon dioxide that is omitted, and use it for themselves. Third, trees reduce noise pollution from highways. Fourth, they improve air quality by trapping particulate air pollutants. Fifth, they alter micro-climates. Sixth, they improve our surroundings, which enhance the outdoors. Finally, cites who have trees, especially older cites like Philadelphia, are more pleasing to be in rather than ones with just concrete and brick. (2)

For trees there is no organ more vital than the roots. Many people thought that roots don’t extend past the crown, but this is false. The roots don’t run as deep as the tree is tall. They usually stay in the upper three feet of soil. The two most important factors for root distribution are oxygen and water. Also, roots like well-aerated soils so they can exchanges gases easier. The respiration of these roots is also a key for survival. If unfavorable conditions in the soil occur, for example too much water, or soil compacting, a tree will suffocate and die. (4)

As the tree also needs respiration through soil, it also needs essential elements for growth. For growth and development, trees require all of the 17 major elements. The trees use these elements in four different ways: to form structural units, incorporation into molecules used in metabolism, acting as catalysts in enzymatic reactions, and helps maintain osmotic balance. The soil pH is very important because most are either acidic or neutral. To adjust the soil pH, three types of lime could be used: ground up limestone, quicklime, or slaked lime. For fast acting, the quicklime or slaked lime should be used, but if convenience is looked for ground up limestone is the way to go. To be the most effective, lime should be applied to an entire area and not just around the trunk. (4)

In conclusion Shigo, Pirone and Whitcomb all state the basic ideas of respecting trees. In order for the trees to survive, they must be taken care of and looked out for. Trees will become damaged by people, machines or mother nature, but its our job to see that they get the proper care so the wounds that were caused will heal with little or no problem at all (2, 6, 8).

In some cases, the authors of the three books vary. Whitcomb talks much about not adding many nutrients to the soil for that would cause the unbalance of the other nutrients. Also, fertilizers are discussed and the problems that occur if too much is given to the plant (8). In the sections that were assigned in Shigo’s book, it doesn’t talk much about nutrients. It mostly talks about how to respect the trees and their so called inner circle (6). Pirone’s talks about fertilizers but he does not mention the direct amount that should be applied, or warnings of what might happen if too much is added (5). It is very difficult to compare all three authors because they are so different. Whitcomb and Pirone seem to be on the same playing field as for having the same information about taking care of trees.
In my opinion, after reading all three books, they are all very well written, and offer a great amount of useful information. Out of the three, I like Carl Whitcomb’s book the best because I can understand what he is saying, and I know that I will be able to apply his theories in my career someday. Shigo is a tree hugger, and I don’t understand his ideas on this issue. As a first time reader of his work, he comes off as a little unordinary. Also his zig-zag theory on trees is a little confusing to me, but he does offer good information about how trees work together and survive. Pirone’s book seems to be geared towards homeowners who want to take care of their landscaping, and save a little money by doing it themselves. Overall, to me Whicomb still offers the best information. It is easy to absorb, and I know I can apply what I learned from his readings to what I will learn in my studies of horticulutre.

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