20 Things You Never Knew About Trees (and Elephants)

May 9, 1988     Twenty Things

20 Things You Never Knew About Trees (and Elephants)

Trees

Trees

Love ’em or hate ’em, you just can’t ignore ’em. They’re in our parks, gardens and streets, growing in fields, flower beds and in other places as well. Some people grow them for pleasure, others cut them down for a living. We eat them, make tables and chairs out of them, and throw them on the fire. Yes, we nearly all take them for granted, but how much do we REALLY know about trees? For instance, did you know that…

  1. The average tree contains enough wood to build a bungalow, or alternatively 2 fishing boats, 1500 kitchen doors, 600 million matches or one big telegraph pole.
  2. Trees are a vital part of our environment, and much work has been done to protect and conserve them in recent years. As well as providing them with vaccination against disease, scientists can now tell us exactly how old a tree is — accurate almost to the day — by chopping it down and counting the rings in the middle.
  3. At one time people used to make cigarettes from the dried leaves of the Tobacco tree. However, these days they can be bought from any newsagent, tobacconists or corner shop.
  4. Scientists from the University of Umsk in Norway setting out on an expedition to study trees in the extreme Northern polar regions would be in for a big surprise. There aren’t any.
  5. Waiting for a tree to die and fall over can be a time consuming business, as some can live for a long as 3000 years! It’s not surprising therefore that lumberjacks prefer to chop them down themselves, using axes or saws.
  6. A Family Tree is one which is considered suitable for children and adults alike, for example Christmas trees which are harmless can be decorated and kept indoors.
  7. If you walked through a forest looking for a Shoe tree you probably wouldn’t find one. Ask a cobbler and you may have more luck. That’s because shoe trees are funny shaped things that you put in your shoe.
  8. There are over 6,000 different species of tree in the world, including Oak, Pine, Birch, Beech, Elm, Ash and Magnolia.
  9. And Horse Chestnut.
  10. There are more trees in the countryside than there are in town centres.
  11. Make a ‘trunk call’ and you won’t necessarily be connected to a tree. Nor will you be connected to an elephant. A trunk call is simply an operator controlled long distance telephone call.
  12. Reverse Charge calls are nothing to do with trees either.
  13. Trees and telephones are by no means the only things to have trunks. As well as elephants, human bodies, swimmers and people going on holiday are rarely seen without them.
  14. There are two types of elephant — the biggest ones, which have got big ears, and the smaller ones, which haven’t.
  15. Unlike trees, the elephant can use its trunk to perform complex and often delicate jungle operations, such as peeling oranges and removing peanuts from their shells.
  16. The tallest trees in the world are the giant Coast Redwoods at Humboldt County, California, the tallest of which measured over 367 feet in 1963 (so it’s probably a lot bigger by now).
  17. There aren’t any elephants in California.
  18. The largest elephant in the world, the bull African elephant, weighs in at around 12 tons, but at only 13 feet tall, it’s not as high as the average tree.
  19. It would take 28 gigantic bull African elephants standing on each other’s backs, weighing a massive 336 tons, in order to reach the leaves on the top of the world’s tallest tree. That’s the equivalent of some 25 London buses, or well over half a British Telecom Tower.
  20. It would take about 16 bull giraffes standing on each others’ heads to reach the same height.
A tree

A tree

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