Rivers in trees

I’ve always loved taking pictures of oblique angles, and with trees this often means just looking straight up.

Fascinated by nature’s pattern of creating rivers of sky between tree canopies, for some reason I had never thought to look up why.

“Crown Shyness” or the less poetic “canopy disengagement” has been studied in scientific literature for 100 years and yet there is no definitive answer as to why trees do this. Tree collisions, during high winds, where branches of adjacent trees clash and break is one theory. Another hypothesis is to prevent insects or disease spreading between neighbours.

I like the idea that each tree respects the right to light of another, but in actuality it’s of course the opposite. Survival of the fittest, not neighbourly love leading a higher tree to move for a lower, because trees grow towards the light and a leaf covered by another tree wouldn’t benefit its growth. Francis S.P. Ng, a Malaysian scholar, studied a particular species and suggested that growing tips were particularly sensitive to light and and stopped growing when in shade.

They also wrote a book called “Shyness in trees”. How cute.

These are just some of my pictures from RSPB Blean Woods, Canterbury, of the phenomenon on a cold December afternoon, heading towards dusk.







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