Virtual Tour


Could you tell these were roots? This is part of the same white oak tree that fell in Fern Valley (tour stop #19). Don't you think the roots look a little bit like branches? In a way, they're like underground branches, having tough, thick outer cells and extending far away from the trunk. They provide an underground structure for the tree's food manufacturing. Smaller root hairs absorb the water that is essential for photosynthesis—the process where plants use the sun's light to turn water and carbon dioxide into sugars for food. The tree's branches are also essential for food manufacturing. They hold the leaves that absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide, both necessary for photosynthesis.

Bonus fact:
Can you guess why the tree fell over during the hurricane? The picture of the roots gives you a clue. Even though there were a lot of roots—and some of them large ones—the weight of the tree top with all its branches and leaves was too heavy. The strong winds pushed hard enough on the top branches of the tree that the roots gave way and the tree fell over on its side. The soil that the roots were growing in was very wet, too, from lots of rain, so the roots just couldn't hang on.

How to find the fallen tree's roots at the Arboretum:
Enter the Fern Valley collection and follow the path down the hill and to the right. Don't cross the stream. Just keep walking and you'll come to the fallen tree.

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Last Updated   July 10, 2009 10:06 AM