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Why is the tree so tall???

The tallest trees on the planet are coast redwoods. Giant sequoias are, pound for pound, more massive three times the mass of the largest animal, the blue whale but still about an eastern tree shorter than the tallest redwoods. Indeed, the tallest known individual tree on Earth is a redwood, known by the nickname Hyperion.

Measured at feet, Hyperion is feet taller than the very tallest tree known in New England. It comes down to water — not so much water supply, but the physics of moving water.

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Trees Can Only Grow So Tall

We all know trees need water and that it comes from the ground. Transporting water from the roots, on through the trunk, and up to the leaves is a challenge. Water is not pushed up the tree. Instead, it is pulled from above: water molecules tend to stick to each other and to other substances.


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When moisture evaporates from the surface of a leaf, it pulls along a column of water that extends all the way back to the roots. The water is pulled from the soil to replace what was lost above. As a tree grows taller, it becomes increasingly difficult to get water to its topmost leaves.

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Eventually, this leads to drought stress and reduced photosynthesis and growth. All trees have to deal with this reality of physics, but those lanky redwoods deal with it better than any others. And according to some researchers, their superiority may derive largely from the fog in which they live. Gigantic redwoods exist only in a narrow band along a few hundred coastal miles in northern California.

How Tall Can Trees Grow?

They grow in wet temperate forests in steep valleys, buffered against wind, and receive well over inches of precipitation annually. These forests are marked by consistently cool, moist conditions and an abundance of fog. The tallest of the E.

According to a study authored by Givnish and recently published in the journal Ecology , rainfall, as suspected, plays an important role in tree height. Without enough water to fill a plant up, it cannot properly support its own weight or grow higher. However, Givnish adds that evaporation in an area can exacerbate a tree's water demand, not simply by evaporating existing water supplies but drawing moisture out of leaves and flowers, making a tree more thirsty.

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This alone could suggest that we might start seeing shorter trees in some parts and taller trees in others as climate change continues to alter precipitation and drought patterns. Root demand, the study says, is another little-considered factor where a plant must put more energy towards growing longer roots to reach important nutrients.

Just What Makes A Tree Tall? : Environment : Nature World News

Tags Trees , climate change , research. By Brian Stallard. Photo : Flickr: Prayitno. Do not reproduce without permission. Related Articles. Channel Your Inner Finn Wolfhard.