Natural & Social Tree Science

This is the place to find and share ideas and information about tree science which isn’t connected with a specific story.

When did trees first appear on earth? Why are there no trees on the moon? How old can they become? There are endless questions you can ask about trees, and through trees you can learn a lot of useful stuff. Kids know about trees through climbing in them, seeing birds building nests in them. They have experiences of burning wood, using knifes, hammers and nails with wood. And they might have noticed both wood and boats floating on water. How come neither wooden or steel boats sink?

Perhaps the greatest pedagogical value of tree storytelling is that personal experiences, imagination and science comes together. So the categorization here between “Tree Science” and the more mythical or fictional stories misses an important point.  For example the stories of trees in Olde Norse, Christian and Buddhist religious traditions can be approached from both spiritual, narrative and more social science and cultural perspectives. Which is pedagogically very useful!

The Voice of Trees
Another example of this marriage between stories and science is the book by  Mauro Corona, “Le voci del bosco” (also available in German),  which describes each single tree in a valley of the Vayont in North of Italy from an approach as a sculpturer and talk about each single specie in a very simple and narrative way, giving also  few details and botanic characteristics.   Each species is given an  human voice or character, linked to the tradition and belief of the area. This makes each of them like part of a village or community. [Thanks to Sara Strati on the WSD e-mail list for this text!]

The Amazing Moso Bamboo
Do you know about the MOSO bamboo? It’s the type used in the Chinese martial arts movies (Crouching Tiger, House of Flying Daggers) as an environment for awe-jaw-dropping aerial fights. The trees go straight up, 30 metres tall, like poles in a forest created by cirque du soleil. The thing is, when you plant the moso, nothing happens – not for a month, not for a year, two years – you watch and wait and wonder. Finally, after five forgettable-where-on-earth-did-I-plant-the damm-seed-years?, whoosh! In one day, it grows 60 cms! yesterday there was nothing, now it’s at your knees! After three days growth, the bamboo is as tall as me (180cm) and so it goes, day after day, soaring 20 cms at a time, for six weeks, right up to 30 metres or more.

So what’s the moso been doing for 5 years? Creating a vast root system to supply it with energy for this amazing spurt, and to anchor these magnificent trees so that Ziyi Zhang and co can do acrobatic leaps on, off and around them. [Thanks to Roger Jenkins from Singapore for this text]

What is especially pedagogically interesting is that culturally, at least the larger species of Bamboo are considered as trees, but in the biological tree of life, Bamboo stems from grass branch. Which can have economic consequences.

Here is a link with imagesof the Moso Bamboo.

Happy exploring!
Expect this page and the whole website to change a lot. And don’t forget to share your reflections and stories in a comment!


One response to “Natural & Social Tree Science

  1. Ragnhild Storaker in Norway shared this on the nordic storytelling email list Ratatosk:

    Vil samtidig gjerne anbefale en vakker og innholdsrik bok om trær:
    “Trær røtter i kulturhistorien” av Olav Skard
    Landbruksforlaget A/S 2002
    isbn 82-529-2636-3

    It is probably only available in Norwegian and seems to be out of print.

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