Trees Are Aware of Their Neighbors and Give Them Space

January 27, 2021 at 5:17 pm

Trees sense each others boundaries and don’t cross them, creating beautiful cracks of light in their canopy

“Crown shyness” is a phenomena in which trees avoid overlapping or touching each other’s crowns, forming striking canopy patterns.

Also known as “canopy disengagement, canopy shyness, or inter-crown spacing, the phenomenon has been studied since the 1920s.

Not all tree species do it. Some only do it with members of their own species, and some do it with other species as well.

There are several theories on why trees evolved this way.

Some think it is a sort of self-pruning to avoid abrasion from rubbing against each other in the wind.

Others think it’s to avoid shading each other. One study shows plants arrange their leaves differently depending on who they are growing near, shading members of different species, but making space for light to reach their to kin.

Others think it’s a strategy to buffer each other from traveling pests.

Some think all three factors could be at play.

Examples of species that engage in this behavior are black mangrove trees, camphor trees, eucalyptus, Sitka spruce and Japanese larch.