Native North Texas Tree Info From Our Arborist
Quietly operating pumps, valves, filters, pipelines, and processing cells of an efficiency surpassing any conceived by man, a typical 40-foot tree takes in about 50 gallons of dissolved nutrients from the soil every day. It is small wonder that this intricate mechanism has for centuries inspired awe among scientists and dirt gardeners alike. But only now are the mysteries of these workings becoming more fully understood, providing basic principles to guide the homeowners in caring for a tree.
The process by which a tree lives and grows starts with the feeder roots, which collect water and minerals needed for food production, and the larger roots, which carry these nutrients to the trunk where they are piped up and out into the branches and leaves. In support of this chain, the tree sends down a taproot to anchor the trunk and braces it with a swelling of the roots at the base, called flare. Meanwhile the trunk, tapering upward to its highest point, the leader, supports the primary branches, secondary branches, and twigs that together form the crown and expose the food-manufacturing leaves to air, which supplies the carbon dioxide needed as a raw material, and to sunlight, which powers the machinery.
Though many people believe that a tree's spreading superstructure is matched by its underpinnings, in fact the two are not mirror images; the roots may run out as far as three times the spread of the crown. In one sense, however, crown and roots are coequal; the total surface of the leaves must be balanced by the total surface of the roots supplying the leaves. What is true of the function of the roots, trunk and crown of the red oak, is true of any other tree species native to north Texas.
What about roots? Out of sight and underground, the roots of a tree constantly perform their twofold task of feeding and supporting the aerial structure overhead. The vertical taproot and the network of lateral roots branching from its anchor and brace the trunk; in time the three largest of the lateral roots usually form a natural tripod around the tree's base. Cellular pipelines just below the roots bark-like sheaths act as conduits, carrying nutrients from the feeder roots back to the trunk.
The nutrients themselves, a mixture of water and minerals, are absorbed by the root's smallest parts, the microscopic root hairs that surround the growing tips of the feeder roots. Even a young tree has billions of these root hairs, taking in tens of gallons a day.