“If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?” The answer may befuddle some, but what I want to know is, “Will other trees watch it happen?”
Do trees have eyes? The answer may surprise you and perhaps make you wonder, “Are the trees watching me?”
Trees DO have eyes!
If you enjoy hiking in the many wonderful forests scattered across our great country, you may have already discovered this truth for yourself: Trees have eyes! No, I’m not talking about eyes like ours that can actually see, but the “eyes” on trees just might help you see to find your way if you somehow wander off the trail.
Let me explain. Branch shedding (called abscission) is a natural process in which trees shed twigs and branches whose leaves are continually shaded. These shaded leaves are unable to capture the light necessary for photosynthesis and so their branches are of no use to the tree.
Gradually, the tree’s resin will form a kind of seal over the point where the trunk and branch meet. Once this seal is complete, the branch no longer has access to nutrients and water. It will die and eventually drop from the tree’s trunk. What’s left behind is a spot in the bark that resembles an eye. Some trees even have a line over the eye that looks like an eyebrow! These “tree eyes” are easiest to find on trees with smooth trunks, but all trees have them.
Here’s the thing: The “eyes” can help you see—or navigate through the forest. Trees generally grow more branches on their southern-facing side, especially in dense forests. So, when a tree sheds branches, it will have the most “eyes” on its southern side. You can use these “southern eyes” to find your way back to your RV! Once you find the trees’ “southern eyes,” you can quickly determine north, east, and west.
See, I told you trees have eyes!
Practice looking for “southern eyes” on trees the next time you hike. Soon, you’ll be able to spot them more easily.
Have you ever used trees or other natural features to help you navigate in the forest? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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