Trees tend to be ignored because they don't do much—until you look closer. Then, they just get weird. From unexpected forms of communication between themselves and other forms of life to the deadly measures they take to ensure their own survival, trees can rightfully demand a whole new level of respect.
If a military sadist that gives kindergarten names was ever allowed to design a plant, the sandbox tree would be it. Poison sits in nearly every part of the leaves, bark, and pumpkin-shaped seeds. The entire 30-meter (100 ft) trunk deters tree huggers with its closely packed thorns. And the seeds explode with such force that people and animals can easily get injured. While this is a good way for the tree to spread its seeds up to 40 meters (130 ft) away, the ejection speed is what makes it so lethal.
Clocking in at a deadly 240 kilometers per hour (150 mph), a nearby cow or human will actually get “shot” and can end up with serious wounds. If, for some inexplicable reason, a person decides to snack on the stuff, the explosive seeds can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and the tree sap is sadistically fond of ruining whatever it touches. It will bring about horrific skin rashes and blind the eyes. One thing is for sure: The sandbox tree is no indoor potted plant.
It's kind of obvious that a tree is a lump of trunk that cannot shoo away any animals interested in a nibble. While it cannot help itself, this doesn't mean that trees are now on the free menu. They are known for hiring bodyguards, and nothing keeps a hungry herbivore away like an ant up the nose.
The acacia tree has its own militia of hostile ants which it rewards with shelter and a special food. And it's not just any old hamburger. It's laced with molecules called protease inhibitors that block a specific enzyme that bugs need to digest protein. In other words, it's a poor and dangerous meal for insects. Except for the tree's army of ants. When they eat it, it doesn't affect them in the least and is very nutritious. It's a good deal for both; one receives shelter and exclusive food they don't have to compete or search for and, in return, the ants attack anything trying to harm the tree.
A newly discovered palm tree must kill itself in order to procreate. These trees spend so much energy in order to attract pollinators that they have no sustenance left, and they die soon after bearing fruit. Cashew farmers accidentally discovered this oddity in Madagascar's Analalava district and were dumbstruck by its mammoth dimensions. The 18-meter-high (58.5 ft) trunk adorned with sweeping 5-meter-wide (16 ft) leaves forms a pyramid-shaped plant so immense that it can be seen from space.
Flowering is the point of no return for this rare giant. Hundreds of tiny blooms adorn the stem tip when it begins its fatal cycle, and these blooms contain copious amounts of nectar that are highly successful in attracting the desired birds and insects. Each and every flower can be fertilized, which is perhaps why the palm doesn't survive the mass fruiting. It literally gives up the nutrients it needs to survive in order to create the next generation. This certainly boosts Madagascar's weird wilderness factor.
Trees are some of the oldest living organisms on the planet. Left in optimal conditions, there seems to be no limit on how old they'll become. There is a spruce alive in Sweden today (pictured above) that was a seedling at the end of the last ice age. This traditional “Christmas tree” is at first glance a disappointing sight, considering that it's 9,550 years old. Discovered in 2004, the Norway spruce looks like a normal young tree about 4 meters (13 ft) tall, but the secret to its longevity lies in its ability to clone itself. Whenever its trunk dies, a new one grows from the roots which are the truly ancient parts of the tree.
Mount Etna in Sicily is home to the oldest chestnut tree in the world, an old-timer possibly 4,000 years old and certified Guinness World Record holder for the largest girth at 58 meters (190 ft) in circumference. Some bristlecone pines from California's White Mountains have been watching the world go by for up to 5,000 years and are still going strong. With this incredible time-defying ability, it's tragic to note that trees in cities average a lifespan of about 13 years.
6.Make Their Own Fertilizer
Researchers have discovered a new ability in trees that have been chopped down. Somehow, the remaining stump draws nitrogen from the air and fertilizes the area around itself with this powerful nutrient for plants. Tropical forest trees are apparently quite good at this. After being logged, they also capture carbon from the atmosphere which allows them a better chance at recovery. Nor are the trees stingy. The nutrients are released into the immediate area which allows nearby plant life to also benefit from the captured plant food. This ability to draw nitrogen from the air is something trees can switch on or off depending on the plant's needs, but only certain species can do it. During the early stages of forest regrowth, the difference in recovery between those that can and those that can't is markedly different. Tree species that lack this ability put on carbon weight up to nine times slower than their nutrient-fishing cousins.