Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication
Q: Are trees selfless? Why do people compare good human beings with trees?
Krishna: An analogy is a comparison made to show how two different things are similar, especially in limited ways.
This is a great question. Like many good questions, the answer is that it depends. The species, climate, temperature and time of year make a difference, and many trees can graft to surrounding trees or re-sprout from a stump. These factors help predict how long a stump can live and reveal some of the interesting survival adaptations of trees.
First, the basics:
Roots eventually die without foliage
All of a tree’s energy comes from photosynthesis taking place in the green parts of the plant: the foliage. Roots provide an anchor to keep a tree standing and supply nutrients and water from the soil, but they don’t feed the tree.
Roots contain a limited amount of a tree’s stored energy. Contrary to the common belief, most of the carbohydrates created through photosynthesis are stored in the twig close to where they were made, not the roots. That helps trees to reinvest their energy locally, driving new growth in the parts of the tree with the best access to light, so that shaded, unproductive branches grow more slowly or die off naturally. This compartmentalized system is a huge benefit to trees because they can get rid of energy sinks and adapt their growth to their surroundings.
The roots do, however, receive a portion of a tree’s carbohydrate energy to live and grow, and a bit more for stored energy as a survival adaptation. The types of adaptations a tree species has will provide clues as to how long its severed stump can live.
Why trees store extra energy in the roots/stump?
In case of catastrophe: When a major disaster like a flood, fire or avalanche clears a section of a forest, the first sprouts to emerge afterwards have a major competitive advantage. Some conifer trees are adapted to release seeds in fire for this reason, but an even bigger head-start is the ability to regrow from the stump. Stumps from species adapted to do this will last longer. If shoots appear during the same or next growing season and they are allowed to grow, the tree will live indefinitely.
In forestry, a harvesting practice called coppicing uses this strategy to keep gathering wood from the same trees for generations.
In fact, roots continue growing through winter using stored energy. For that reason, the stump from a tree cut down in fall will still be very much alive in spring and will likely still have living cells throughout much of the next growing season. A tree cut in late spring, on the other hand, won’t survive more than a few months.
Tropical trees that don’t re-sprout within a few weeks are probably dead.
Some trees can’t re-sprout.
Many tree species have no capability of regrowing shoots from the base, or lose the ability to re-sprout when they reach a certain level of maturity (usually fairly young). If a tree like this is cut down, it is functionally dead—even if the roots are technically still alive for a few months.
A diseased or dying tree will die quickly after being cut.
If the tree was already sick and dying, it was using its energy just to stay alive and didn’t keep much in reserve. Unless it was already sending up live shoots from the base in an attempt to start over, it probably never will—it’s done.
Filial cannibalism occurs when an adult individual of a species consumes all or part of the young of its own species or immediate offspring. Filial cannibalism occurs in many animal species ranging from mammals to insects, and is especially prevalent in various species of fish. Exact evolutionary purpose of the practice in those species is unclear and there is no verifiable consensus among zoologists; it is agreed upon though that it may have, or may have had at some point in species' evolutionary history, certain evolutionary and ecological implications (1).
Total or whole clutch cannibalism occurs when a parent consumes its entire brood. This usually occurs when a brood is smaller or of lesser quality. The most obvious purpose of total or whole clutch cannibalism is the termination of care for the parents. The main benefit of this action can only be an investment in the future reproduction of potentially larger or healthier broods (2).
Nature has strange ways of working. Science makes us understand these in the way it should be done. No emotions please! Facts are facts!
Some mothers are selfish even if they are dealing with their own flesh and blood!
Then mothers love their children because they are their children! There is a sort of selfishness involved in this.
Which love is the best? A person who helps other human beings who is not a relative or an acquaintance is the best because s/he understands universality of life perfectly. A person who treats all living beings as equal, loves them equally and helps them unconditionally - is the best.
The love of such a person is the best and even surpasses a mother's love.
Now you can attack me for saying this if you really can't understand what I said!