Part I - Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines in Spring
Follow along as Sir Malcolm and Jane explore the verdant realm of green growing beings, looking for signs of spring!
Trees are very intelligent beings! They don't think and move in the same way that we do, but they do understand the world around them, make decisions, communicate, rest, and move about (just very slowly compared to us)! There is so much to learn about these special beings. Since it's spring, let's start with their cycle of shedding and growing leaves.
Why do trees drop their leaves for winter? There are a few reasons we know of, and probably a lot more that we don't even know!
One reason trees shed leaves is that winter storms with heavy winds can be dangerous for cold, brittle branches. Big broad leaves catch the breeze like sails and would make limbs more likely to blow around and break. Another reason is that ice freezing on leaves weighs them down, making branches heavy and prone to snapping. Before dropping their leaves, deciduous trees drain nutrients from the leaves and store them for later. Left over wastes in the leaves are released to the forest floor to be composted, and connection points on the branches are sealed off. Buds of tissue for next year's leaf growth are wrapped in a protective winter bud. So with their sugar and nutrients stored away from a big year of soaking up the sunlight, wastes released, and tissues hardened, trees take a big winter nap after all of their hard work.
Not all trees drop their leaves, though. On some trees the leaves die and dry up, but stay connected through the winter. Some conifers (trees with cones and needles like a pine tree) drop their leaves, but most are evergreen, developing a waxy protective coating and keeping their needles through the winter.
Ready for adventure!
It’s time for you to explore!
Find a tree near your home and spend some time getting to know them. Say hello if you like and notice as much as you can about the tree, as if you were meeting a person for the first time. Then have a seat at the base of the tree and just relax for a while, just being together.
Do some more exploring around your home with your map and fill in drawings of trees, shrubs and woody vines close by!