Portal:Trees

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The Trees Portal

Common ash (Fraxinus excelsior), a deciduous broad-leaved (angiosperm) tree

In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants with secondary growth, plants that are usable as lumber or plants above a specified height. In wider definitions, the taller palms, tree ferns, bananas, and bamboos are also trees. Trees are not a taxonomic group but include a variety of plant species that have independently evolved a trunk and branches as a way to tower above other plants to compete for sunlight. Trees tend to be long-lived, some reaching several thousand years old. Trees have been in existence for 370 million years. It is estimated that there are some three trillion mature trees in the world.

A tree typically has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground by the trunk. This trunk typically contains woody tissue for strength, and vascular tissue to carry materials from one part of the tree to another. For most trees it is surrounded by a layer of bark which serves as a protective barrier. Below the ground, the roots branch and spread out widely; they serve to anchor the tree and extract moisture and nutrients from the soil. Above ground, the branches divide into smaller branches and shoots. The shoots typically bear leaves, which capture light energy and convert it into sugars by photosynthesis, providing the food for the tree's growth and development.

Trees usually reproduce using seeds. Flowers and fruit may be present, but some trees, such as conifers, instead have pollen cones and seed cones. Palms, bananas, and bamboos also produce seeds, but tree ferns produce spores instead.

Trees play a significant role in reducing erosion and moderating the climate. They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store large quantities of carbon in their tissues. Trees and forests provide a habitat for many species of animals and plants. Tropical rainforests are among the most biodiverse habitats in the world. Trees provide shade and shelter, timber for construction, fuel for cooking and heating, and fruit for food as well as having many other uses. In parts of the world, forests are shrinking as trees are cleared to increase the amount of land available for agriculture. Because of their longevity and usefulness, trees have always been revered, with sacred groves in various cultures, and they play a role in many of the world's mythologies. (Full article...)

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Betula pubescens - Burgwald 002.jpg

Betula pubescens (syn. Betula alba), commonly known as downy birch and also as moor birch, white birch, European white birch or hairy birch, is a species of deciduous tree, native and abundant throughout northern Europe and northern Asia, growing farther north than any other broadleaf tree. It is closely related to, and often confused with, the silver birch (B. pendula), but grows in wetter places with heavier soils and poorer drainage; smaller trees can also be confused with the dwarf birch (B. nana).

Three varieties are recognised and it hybridises with the silver and dwarf birches. A number of cultivars have been developed but many are no longer in cultivation. The larva of the autumnal moth (Epirrita autumnata) feeds on the foliage and in some years, large areas of birch forest can be defoliated by this insect. Many fungi are associated with the tree and certain pathogenic fungi are the causal agents of birch dieback disease. (Full article...)

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Saalfeld Easter egg tree with 9200 eggs, taken March 24, 2009

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A massive log raft headed down the Columbia River (the year 1902), containing an entire year's worth of logs from one timber camp.

The existence of a wood economy, or more broadly, a forest economy (in many countries a bamboo economy predominates), is a prominent matter in many developing countries as well as in many other nations with a temperate climate and especially in those with low temperatures. These are generally the countries with greater forested areas. The uses of wood in furniture, buildings, bridges, and as a source of energy are widely known. Additionally, wood from trees and bushes, can be turned into a variety of production, such as wood pulp, cellulose in paper, celluloid in early photographic film, cellophane, and rayon (a substitute for silk).

At the end of their normal usage, wood products can be burnt to obtain thermal energy or can be used as a fertilizer. The potential environmental damage that a wood economy could occasion include a reduction of biodiversity due to monoculture forestry (the intensive cultivation of very few trees types); and CO2 emissions. However, forests can aid in the reduction of atmospheric carbon dioxide and therefore decrease global warming. (Full article...)

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