7 facts about trees that will surely surprise you!

The objective is to promote awareness and respect for the preservation of our trees, which are so essential for life on the planet.

And there are many curiosities about the trees, some of them quite unknown. Check it out below:

1. They give us medicines

Do you know that little boring headache that you only get with an aspirin pill? Yes, acetylsalicylic acid originally came from the willow bark, although modern aspirin contains a synthetic derivative. The remedy was discovered about 3,500 years ago, when the bitter powder extracted from the willow bark and leaves was found for the first time to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

2. Trees clean the air

Trees absorb odors and polluting gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter air particles by trapping them in leaves and bark. Air pollution is linked to premature death and respiratory diseases, so trees help us by improving the quality of the air we breathe. To give you an idea, an area of ​​about four thousand square meters of planted trees is capable of providing enough oxygen to 18 people in one year.

3. They provide us with raw materials

Cork stoppers are generally made from the bark of a tree quite common in Portugal called cork oak. The tree does not need to be cut for this, as the corks are made from its bark. In addition to serving to seal the wine bottle, the stopper also favors the maturation of the drink, allowing the correct evolution of the wine and the formation of its appreciated aromas.

4. Trees serve as homes for many species

Trees provide survival conditions for all wildlife. They provide leaves and fruits, safe habitat for nesting, shade and shelter, as well as height for the safety of many species. Oaks, for example, can house more than 280 types of insects, which serve to feed birds and other animals. That is why preserving trees is so important, as the life cycle depends a lot on forests.

5. They are fundamental to mental health

Many studies have already demonstrated the benefits of trees for restoring health. Patients admitted to hospitals that have access to a window view with trees, for example, recover much faster and with less complications. Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have fewer symptoms when they have access to nature. Exposure to trees and nature also helps with concentration, reducing mental fatigue.

6. Trees talk to each other

The trees are connected by a network of fungi that grow in and around their roots. Through this network, they share resources, exchange nutrients and alert messages – when they feel threatened.

According to ecologist Suzanne Simard of the University of British Columbia (UBC), these networks include older and larger central trees (also called “mother trees”) that can connect to hundreds of younger trees around them. According to the researcher, these mother trees can help forests adapt to human-induced climate changes, thanks to their “memory” of slower natural changes in the last decades or centuries.

According to her, these older trees lived for a long time and went through many fluctuations in the climate, so they healed that memory in DNA. “DNA is encoded and has adapted through mutations to this environment. Therefore, this genetic code carries the code for changing climates that are emerging”, he explains.

7. Trees did not exist in the early years of Earth’s history

The Earth is 4.5 billion years old and it is estimated that the plants appeared about 500 million years ago, the first species being probably moss and liver, without deep roots.

The appearance of the first organisms capable of photosynthesis, known as cyanobacteria, dates back to 2.7 billion years. Cyanobacteria that live in the shallow waters of the sea produced oxygen for the primitive planet and, over a long period of time, the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere grew slowly.

Only in the Devonian period (419 – 358 million years) did the first plants and trees in the world appear, forming the first forests.

Nature and Mental Health

Nature improves your health

Daily contact with nature is linked to reduced levels of chronic stress, reductions in obesity and improved concentration, so get your colleagues outside and help them feel healthier.

Nature makes happier workers

Green your office by creating an outside area and encouraging lunchtime walks. There is a 10% reduction in work absence if employees are able to look at a green space rather than a wall.

Green offices boost productivity

Adding plants and photos of wildlife (or even playing birdsong!) can help your colleagues at work. Employees are 15% more productive when workplaces have even a few houseplants.

Nature makes you more active

Map out local walking routes in wild places for people to enjoy at lunchtime. People with easy access to nature are three times as likely to be active as those without access.

Green exercise can save the NHS money

Ecotherapy could reduce antidepressant prescription costs, so encourage walking meetings and exercise in your workplace. Mind has shown that green exercise benefits health and wellbeing.

Green neighbourhoods cut depression

Natural features near houses reduce mental illness. Work with neighbours to create wildflower borders and bird feeding stations.

In the future, transparent solar panels may be applied to windows and glass facades

Imagine capturing the sun hitting skyscrapers to generate energy – transforming buildings into real solar plants. This is one of the possibilities that cities of the future can take advantage of with the development of transparent solar panels. At Michigan State University, in the United States, researchers created a new cell that reached 8.1% efficiency, a record for panels with such a characteristic.

The solar cell has 43.3% transparency and is made of carbon, while ordinary panels are made of silicon. The windows that cover the buildings are perfect places to apply the new type of panel “because they offer something that silicon cannot: a combination of very high efficiency and very high visible transparency”. The claim is from engineering professor Stephen Forrest, who led the research.

“The new material we developed and the device structure we built had to balance various compensations to provide good absorption of sunlight, high voltage, high current, low resistance and neutral colour transparency, all at the same time”, explains Yongxi Li, assistant research scientist in electrical engineering and computer science.

Buildings with glass facades usually have a coating that reflects and absorbs some of the light to reduce glare and heat inside the building. Instead of throwing that energy away, transparent solar panels could use it to supply a portion of the building’s electricity needs.

Two versions of optical coatings were created for the panels, one with a slightly greenish tint and the other a neutral colour. Even the colour, according to the university in a statement, “looks much more like the gray of sunglasses and car windows.” In any case, both can be manufactured on a large scale and, even better, using less toxic materials than other transparent solar cells.

The research was published in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences).