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Trees and Exoplanets

1 Nov 2011, 22:10 UTC
Trees and Exoplanets
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Over the last weekend, I witnessed something I've never seen before: October snow in the East Coast! Never have I seen snow this early, and what I observed was quite intriguing.

As I was driving home, I saw branches breaking and falling dangerously on the streets. Apparently, the snow were piling up on the leaves, and as they became too heavy, the branches simply snapped.

It's only then that I realized why trees evolved the capability (or adapted) to shed leaves before winter comes, to prevent damage. And what I’ve witnessed is only one among many mechanisms that the tree employs to avoid damage during harsh winter weather. Shedding leaves also prevents the tree from losing moisture during winter. Of course in the context of this post, I am only referring to Deciduous trees.

Deciduous trees have developed specific adaptations to the seasons. We all know that seasons are linked to the tilt of the earth's axis from the orbital plane, and the eccentricity of the planet's orbit, among other things. This makes me wonder about the kind of adaptations that trees on other planets would have, depending on the characteristics of their home planet.

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