Capturing the Canopy

Heads Up in Marton Wood Please  - Otherwiseyou might miss an impressive sight up in the woodland canopy. Trees seem tovery friendly when it comes to living together.

Why not go and see for yourself and enjoy your local woodland andventure out into nature, not just for fresh air and exercise, but also to see avery special natural behaviour.

If you look in the right place, you will see small and large gapsbetween the tops of the trees, it looks like they are avoiding touching eachother. This makes amazing patterns and halos around the crown of each tree,which is known as Crown Shyness.

This is well known to science but not often noticed by the public. Itoccurs mainly in trees of the same species, in Marton Wood you have to find thearea where all the beech trees live together. It’s easy to see look up for thenarrow yet clear gaps between the tree crowns. It looks as though the canopyhas torn and moved slightly – like in the photos below.

Scientists still aren’t sure why the trees do this. They think maybe atree’s leaves can feel when they are approaching another tree. Once they sensea nearby neighbour, the growing process stops, making sure that light can comedown through the tree canopy and help all the trees take in light and behealthy.

They also think it helps to not spread disease and insects that wouldeat the leaves and hurt the trees. The trees seem to be very wise and do notwant to hurt themselves and make the gaps, so when it is windy their branchesdon’t get all stuck together.

Why do you think the trees are doing that? Is it the wind maybe?

Are they shy of each other? Are they somehow protecting each other?

See if you can take your own photographs of Crown Shyness in MartonWood, or make a drawing of the gaps you can see.

Summer 2023
Laney Birkhead