Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Insider Information on Trees

Today, on 6-29-2016, we met with some Allegheny students to talk about trees. We also took wood samples from various trees around campus. It was hard to get the end of the coring mechanism through the bark, but once we managed that, it was easier to twist it in further. Since the bark is on a tree to protect the living cells, I assume this is normal (Also, we were told to expect this when we were given a demonstration on how to core a tree). I helped core a conifer and a red maple tree. Coring the tree does slightly increase its susceptibility to disease or harmful insects, but as it's only a tiny part of the living wood that gets exposed, it does not make a huge difference. The core sample was narrower than a pencil. We also learned that the inner layers of the trees are not made up of living cells; only a thin layer under the bark is alive. That's why you can have a living tree with a hollow inside.
If a fire or a disease comes through that removes a part of the living cells, the bark and the living wood around it will try to cover it back up again.
Inside the trees, the centermost rings of the trees are called heartwood. That's there to help provide support for the tree. Outside of that, the wood was called sapwood. When I held the core sample, the sapwood felt more moist than the heartwood. I learned that this was because the sapwood was the part of the tree that transported water and nutrients around the tree.
Out of curiosity, I asked about a maple tree with dark purple leaves. I learned that it was called a crimson king maple, and that it was nonnative to the area, which I had not known before.

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