Adolescent Arboretum

Hello and welcome back to another utterly unreliable and deviously deceptive week of Factually Deficient! Because I am only just returned from and still longing for my Plant Kingdom vacation, I thought I’d answer another question relating to that Kingdom which we all adore.

My friend Annie asked:

How do you know when a tree has changed from being a teenage tree to an adult tree?

This is an excellent question, and one which– as we will soon see– has many practical real-world applications.

First, to answer the question, we should assemble a list of typical adolescent behaviours:

  1. Angst and violent mood swings
  2. Sudden growth spurts
  3. Gaudy dress
  4. Anti-authoritarian behaviour

It is important, when dealing with trees, to know the age of the tree you are dealing with; while child and adult trees are generally safe, an adolescent tree, due to these symptoms of its age bracket, is liable to lash out without warning, scattering squirrels and potentially causing damage with its branches. Only someone who is aware of the tree’s age can prepare himself accordingly, in order to treat with the tree in a manner that will avoid upsetting it without making it feel patronized.

Obviously, we should discard the first and last symptoms, as one who witnesses these in a tree is already too close and too late to benefit from identifying it as a teenage tree. Thus, it is with the second and third typical adolescent behaviours with which we will concern ourselves, as they lead to two practical ways of determining whether or not a tree is in its turbulent teenage years:

  1. Observe the tree from a sufficient distance on two successive days. Photography may aid you in this. Naturally, a twig or two out of place is a small enough change to be considered an outlier, but if the tree has increased in size by more than 40% since the previous day, it is safe to assume that it is an adolescent.
  2. Cut the tree in half and count its rings. Rings, like other jewellery, are best worn in moderation; however, tasteless teenagers will put dozens or more on without any sense of style. Thus, if the tree trunk has a great many rings in its centre, then you know that it belongs to an adolescent tree.

Armed with this knowledge, I can only hope that we will all be able to work together to make the world safe at last from angsty teenage trees, acting out against the better judgement of their elders.


Disclaimer: Not all of the statements in this blog are true. The writer bears no ill will to adolescents, and does not necessarily advocate cutting or photographing trees.


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