Did you know that the human desire for personal space also occurs in the tree world? Some trees deliberately don’t touch each other. We know tree trunks don’t touch since it is evident when you get stump removal service. But tree tops not touching? Seriously?
What we call “touchy-feely” is called crown shyness in trees. Keep reading to find out more about crown shyness and its causes.
The Origin of Crown Shyness
Crown shyness, a sensation first seen in the ’20s, is when the crowns of trees don’t touch. The crown is the upper section of the tree where limbs sprout out from the main trunk. If you were strolling in the woods and looked up, you are looking at the canopy which a group of crowns is.
Usually, when you look into the canopy, you see an intermixing of branches between the trees and the crowns. Not with crown shyness. The tops of the trees don’t touch. It is a peculiar phenomenon to see, and if you were to look at pics on the web, you might question: “Is this photoshopped or is crown shyness for real?” Straight up, crown shyness is for real.
When you peek into the canopy, it seems like every tree has a halo of never-ending sky around its crown. Others have likened the look to a backlit jigsaw puzzle. Regardless of which description entices you, you get the idea. There is an exact boundary and separation (“no touch zone) around every tree crown.
Crown Shyness Causes
No one knows what causes crown shyness, but there are many theories, some of which are more believable than others:
Disease and Insects – If one tree has an infection, then the spread of dangerous insects is a little harder to get to the next tree with crown shyness. Another hypothesis is that crown shyness stops the spread of some bacterial or fungal diseases.
Photosynthesis – Photosynthesis is assisted by letting optimal light levels enter the canopy via the empty spaces around every crown. Trees grow in the path of light, and when they detect the shade from nearby tree limbs, their growth is stopped in that direction.
Tree Damage – Trees sway in the wind and smack into each other. Twigs and limbs break during the impacts, damaging or disrupting growth nodules, making the gaps around every crown. Another theory is that crown shyness is a preventive measure. It lets trees play down or avoid this injury.
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