These trees lean towards to equator!

When you walk along a line of Cook pines (Araucaria columnaris), you might think that a tornado just passed. Most trees of this coniferous species are leaning in the same direction. Researchers from the California Polytechnic State University also noticed this. In fact, travelling around the world (something that scientists tend to do), they started seeing in pattern. In their paper, published in Ecology, they write:

We first noticed A. columnaris leaning south in California and Hawaii, where it is a common horticultural plant. Our observation from Australia, though, suggested that A. columnaris lean north in the southern hemisphere.

This observation triggered their curiosity. They sampled 256 trees on five continents and recorded the orientation of their lean. And it turned out that they ‘uncovered a surprisingly consistent pattern of hemisphere-dependent directional leaning in A. columnaris.’ Indeed, in the northern hemisphere, trees lean south, and in the southern hemisphere they lean north. But why they do it? Nobody knows…

cook pine.jpg

 

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