|MadSci Network: Botany|
Trees are extremely important in most people's lives for food, fuel, shelter, paper, medicines and thousands of other products and also to improve the human environment. They are also an essential part of human civilizations in many ways. The 2004 Nobel Peace went to a Kenyan woman, Wangari Maathai, for her planting of thirty million trees. Trees provide us with many foods: 1. Most "fruits", such as apple, apricot, cherry, peach, pear, orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, tangerine, persimmon, starfruit, avocado, mango, papaya, plum, date, fig, coconut, olive, breadfruit, etc. 2. Most "nuts" such as almond, pecan, walnut, chestnut, macadamia, pistachio, hazelnut, Brazilnut, cashew, pine nuts, ginkgo nuts, etc. 3. Chocolate, from cacao tree 4. Chicle, used in chewing gum, from chicle tree 5. Coffee, from coffee tree 6. Cinnamon, from bark of cinnamon tree 7. Several other spices such as nutmeg, allspice and cloves 8. Maple sugar, from sugar maple 9. Root beer flavoring, from sassafras tree roots 10. Chocolate substitute from pods of carob tree 11. Coffee substitute from seeds of Kentucky coffee tree Several medicines come from trees: 1. Quinine from cinchona tree bark used to treat malaria 2. Taxol from yews used to treat cancer 3. Alkaloids from rauvolfia are used to treat high blood pressure 4. Eucalyptus oil used in cough syrups, inhalants, mouth washes, etc. 5. Witch hazel, used as an antiseptic 6. Ginkgo, used as an herbal supplement to improve memory 7. Native peoples use many trees as sources of medicine Trees provide us with thousands of other products: 1. Most rubber comes from rubber trees 2. Leather is tanned with tannins derived from trees 3. Paper and cardboard. 4. Firewood 5. Wood for plywood, buildings, boats, floors, furniture, wood toys, picture frames, handles for hammers and axes, playground equipment, fences, railroad ties, telephone poles, etc. 6. Toothpicks, matches, clothspins, popsicle sticks, etc. 7. Palm and coconut oils are used in soaps and toiletries 8. Carnauba wax used in car waxes comes from Brazilian wax palm 9. Some dyes come from trees, such as a black dye from walnut husks 10. Myrrh and frankincense 11. Perfume oils, from a variety of trees, such as sandalwood, almond and pine 12. Turpentine from pines 13. Rosin from pines 14. Life preserver stuffing obtained from kapok tree 15. Synthetic fibers such as rayon consist of processed from wood fibers 16. Disposable diapers made from woodpulp 17. Cellulose gum in toothpaste and cosmetics 18. Christmas trees 19. Baseball bats, mainly from ash 20. Golf club heads from persimmon 21. Golf ball coating, latex from balata tree 22. Osage orange hedges were used as cattle proof fencing before barbed wire 23. Musical instruments, such as violins, pianos, wood flutes, bassoons, etc. 24. Mulch is often made from tree bark or wood chips. 25. Amber is petrified tree sap used as a gemstone and provided a key plot element in Jurassic Park movie 26. Neem tree oil is a pesticide 27. Holly branches are used as Christmas decorations 28. Eucalyptus and pussy willow branches are used in flower arrangements 29. Pencils are usually made with wood 30. Cellophane and some plastic are made from tree cellulose 31. Redwood tree burls are sold as novelties, which are placed in water and form green shoots 32. A few trees are grown indoors as houseplants, such as Norfolk Island pine and benjamin fig Trees provide many other benefits: 1. Trees provide some of the oxygen animals need to breathe. 2. Trees provide homes and food for many animals, such as birds and squirrels. 3. Trees improve the human environment in many ways providing shade, windbreaks, cooling, screening of unsightly views and erosion control. 4. Some trees are revered for their size or age and are tourist attractions such as the largest tree in volume (giant sequoia), tallest tree (redwood) and oldest tree (bristlecone pine). 5. Fall tree leaf colors are enjoyed by tens of millions of Americans and are a multi-billion dollar per year tourist attraction. 6. Forests and forested parks provide sites for recreation. 7. Historic trees are revered as symbols of a famous person, place or event, for example the George Washington tulip poplar and Liberty elm 8. Some animals eat trees, for example silkworms eat mulberry leaves, squirrels and bluejays eat acorns 9. Attractive or fragrant flowers and colorful fruits to decorate lawns and gardens, such as flowering dogwood, princess tree, flowering cherry, flowering crabapple, redbud, magnolia, etc. 10. Craft items are often made from tree cones and fruits, especially pine cones 11. Each state has a state tree 12. Trees are sometimes national symbols, such as the Canadian maple leaf 13. Trees are used on stamps, coins, currency, fabrics and in art 14. Trees are often planted as memorials 15. Arbor Day is a holiday in most states 16. Growing trees is a multi-billion dollar per year business 17. Tree rings are used to date objects 18. Grafting trees is sometimes used to create whimsical forms, such as living ladders in the "Tree Circus" created by Axel Erlandson 19. An arboretum is a "tree zoo" that is used for scientific study and enjoyment 20. Trees are often featured in poems and literature, for example the poem "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer 21. Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) is a popular folk story for children. Chapman planted apple trees in the early 1800s in what later became Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. Some negative effects of trees 1. Trees knocked down by windstorms and hurricanes cause millions of dollars in damage to buildings telephone line and power lines 2. Many people are allergic to tree pollen, especially oak and birch 3. Many people get splinters References Lewington, Anna. 1990. Plants for People. New York: Cambridge University Press. Lewington, Anna and Parker, Edward. 2002. Ancient Trees: Trees That Live For 1,000 Years. Collins & Brown. Meyer, Jeffrey G. and Linnea, Sharon. 2001. America's Famous and Historic Trees: From George Washington's Tulip Poplar to Elvis Presley's Pin Oak. Houghton Mifflin. Pakenham, Thomas. 2002. Remarkable Trees of the World. W. W. Norton & Company. Historic Trees State Trees Native American Ethnobotany Database Forest and Tree Uses California Rare Fruit Growers Tree Circus Joyce Kilmer (1886 - 1918) - Author of Trees and Other Poems
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