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Why Do Trees Get So Old? - It's Because Of Tree Compartmentalization

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How Do Trees Protect Themselves From Wounds And Injury?:

Quoting Dr. Alex Shigo, "trees are super survivors mainly because they grow in ways that give them defense systems" against the disease process. A tree has the ability to fight infections and wounds by rapidly reacting to changes that threaten their survival.

Trees that are injured and infected begin a "processes of boundary formation" and new cell growth starts. Trees do not restore or heal the old and dead wood, but instead grows new cells around infected and dead wood - seals disease off. This is called tree compartmentalization where good wood is safely separated from infected wood.

Why Do Trees Live So Long?:

Trees cannot move to protect themselves and have developed a very effective defense mechanism for their own survival. This method of defense has developed for millions of years and is why trees are so adapted to living over long periods of time.

Actually, it is a rare tree that can make it into the upper canopy cover. Many trees lose out before they can make it to maturity. Those that make it have developed an uncanny ability to grow over the many wounds it receives through the years and can live for centuries, depending on the genetics of the species.

How Do Trees Support Themselves For So Long?:

Trees are some of the largest organisms on the planet. To support their massive systems for long periods, they require enormous amounts of energy. As Shigo puts it "trees are like big batteries" that tap the maintenance systems available - water, air, solar energy - to grow the largest mechanical woody support structure known.

Trees use energy so efficiently that very little waste occurs. Wood is stored energy in the form of cellulose or long strands of glucose that is essentially sugar. This wood is always being created and used in both the living and dead form for structural support and transporting nutrients, sugar and water.

What Is CODIT?:

Dr. Shigo found that trees respond to injuries by sealing the wounded area through the process of "compartmentalization". This theory of "compartmentalization of decay in trees", or CODIT, was Shigo's biological brainstorm, leading to many changes and adaptations in the tree care industry.

Instead of "healing" like our skin, an injury to a tree trunk results in surrounding cells changing themselves chemically and physically to prevent the spread of decay. New cells are produced by cells lining the cut area to cover and seal the injured area. Instead of trees healing, trees actually seal.

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