Crown Shyness: When Trees Actually Avoid Touching Each Other

No matter how crowded an area may get, we all put in extra effort to avoid touching other strangers’ bodies – and for good reason. From all kinds of bacteria to the simple unpleasant sensation of getting physically close, both humans and certain animals like to keep a distance. But what about plants? Why and, much more importantly, how do some plants actually avoid their branches and leaves from touching each other?

In case you’re thinking this is a joke, it is as real as possible. Although the term of crown shyness has been around for quite a while, it wasn’t until recently that the popularity of this phenomenon amazed the entire planet. Crown shyness is a phenomenon when certain tree species grow very close to one another, but without actually touching the upper branches of other trees. Not even one.

Of course, such an extraordinary event leads to incredible forest views that make anyone ask twice if nature really achieved such perfection on its own. Aside from the Sci-Fi visual effect, though, lies an even greater mystery: why and how can this happen?

So far, scientists came up with a couple of theories. One would be that trees somehow ‘know’ that staying apart from one another helps them maximize the process of photosynthesis, as they avoid shading considerably more. Another reason might be that the extra distance avoids harmful insects from spreading to other trees.

In the end, each cause sounds both insane and logical, but one thing is for sure: this is a phenomenon worth witnessing right at the spot.

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