Cook Pines Get Their Lean On


So, let's pretend that you didn't just read the caption on the tweet that I put above this text...

Ok, thanks...

Have you ever seen a tree growing at an angle?  Sure, we all have.  The wind comes whipping through an area and those young, soft trunks don't stand a chance.  

Have you ever seen a pine tree growing at angle?  Again, probably yes.  But wait...  What if I told you that there are pine trees that grow at an angle and it has absolutely nothing to do with the wind.  Now do I have your attention?  

(Again, keep pretending that you didn't read the tweet caption.  Thank you!)

The Cook pine grows at angle...towards the equator...no matter where it is.

Matt Ritter, a botanist that specializes in trees, is a biology professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and he is the man that recently discovered that Cook pines grow this way.

The first trees he saw were above the equator, so he saw them leaning south.

He said, “This has never before been seen in plants...And I thought, you know, that’s weird. No trees lean to the south. It doesn’t make sense.”

So, he called a friend in Australia, who said that all of them lean north there.

Ritter said, "That was my ‘aha’ moment.  Is it possible they all could be leaning toward the equator?”

After examining 256 trees over five different continents, Ritter determined that Cook pines always angle their growth towards the equator.  Furthermore, the further they are from the equator, the more severe their angle of growth is.

Why do they grow like that, though?

Some blame a "genetic bottleneck."  Others think magnetism might have something to do with it.  The mushy types think that the trees might just want to go home (a place in the South Pacific called New Caledonia).

In short, no one really knows why they grow like that.

Read the full story at Los Angeles Times


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