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Surprising Facts About Trees

Lexington’s warm, humid summers and cold, wet winters are just the thing for many species of trees. This includes the beautiful tulip tree, which is the state tree of Kentucky. Trees provide shade during those hot summers, the leaves of some turn brilliant colors in the fall while the leaves and needles of others stay vibrant green all year long. The fruit, nuts, leaves, and bark of trees are eaten by a variety of animals, including humans. Their lumber is used to make furniture and housing, and they pull carbon dioxide from the air while adding oxygen. Here are some facts about trees you probably don’t know.

Some Trees Are Protected by Ants

Many acacia trees have a symbiotic relationship with ants. They give the ants food and shelter, and the ants give the trees protection. One of these trees is the whistling thorn of east Africa. It is filled with walnut-sized balls equipped with thorns. The tree gets its name because the balls have holes through which the wind whistles. The holes provide entrances and exits for their sentinel ants, who eat the nectar provided by the leaves. When an herbivore such as a giraffe tries to eat these leaves, the stinging, biting ants swarm out of the balls to defend them. The giraffe learns its lesson and never bothers the tree again.

Some Trees Are Medicinal

Many trees have medical applications, including:

  • Willow
  • Cinchona
  • Pacific yew
  • Ginkgo
  • Witch hazel

The bark of the willow was famously used to ease pain and inflammation for over two millennia. The scientific name of aspirin, acetylsalicylic acid, is derived from the scientific name of the willow tree, Salix.

The bark of some Cinchona trees was used to make quinine. For a long time, quinine was one of the few effective ways to treat malaria. Taxol, derived from the Pacific yew, is used to treat several types of cancer, including breast, lung, pancreatic, and ovarian cancer. The ancient and beautiful ginkgo tree’s seeds and leaves are used to enhance memory and improve circulation. The leaves and bark of the witch hazel are used to ease skin inflammation, and a forked branch is still used by dousers to locate aquifers.

About the Cork Oak

Cork is used as flooring and to soundproof recording studios and other rooms that need to be “dead.” It’s also used as plugs for bottles. Cork comes from a type of oak tree found in Mediterranean countries. The great thing about cork is that it can be harvested from the tree without having to kill it. The top part of the bark is sloughed off, and in about five years, the tree grows another usable layer.

Call Us at Top Quality Landscaping

Next time you’re in the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary or any other park in Lexington, take a moment to admire the trees. Indeed, if you have trees in your own yard that you admire, don’t hesitate to call our arborists at Top Quality if they need care.

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