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Common ash ( Fraxinus excelsior), a deciduous broad-leaved ( angiosperm) tree

In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants with secondary growth, plants that are usable as lumber or plants above a specified height. In wider definitions, the taller palms, tree ferns, bananas, and bamboos are also trees. Trees are not a taxonomic group but include a variety of plant species that have independently evolved a trunk and branches as a way to tower above other plants to compete for sunlight. Trees tend to be long-lived, some reaching several thousand years old. Trees have been in existence for 370 million years. It is estimated that there are some three trillion mature trees in the world.

A tree typically has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground by the trunk. This trunk typically contains woody tissue for strength, and vascular tissue to carry materials from one part of the tree to another. For most trees it is surrounded by a layer of bark which serves as a protective barrier. Below the ground, the roots branch and spread out widely; they serve to anchor the tree and extract moisture and nutrients from the soil. Above ground, the branches divide into smaller branches and shoots. The shoots typically bear leaves, which capture light energy and convert it into sugars by photosynthesis, providing the food for the tree's growth and development.

Trees usually reproduce using seeds. Flowers and fruit may be present, but some trees, such as conifers, instead have pollen cones and seed cones. Palms, bananas, and bamboos also produce seeds, but tree ferns produce spores instead.

Trees play a significant role in reducing erosion and moderating the climate. They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store large quantities of carbon in their tissues. Trees and forests provide a habitat for many species of animals and plants. Tropical rainforests are among the most biodiverse habitats in the world. Trees provide shade and shelter, timber for construction, fuel for cooking and heating, and fruit for food as well as having many other uses. In parts of the world, forests are shrinking as trees are cleared to increase the amount of land available for agriculture. Because of their longevity and usefulness, trees have always been revered, with sacred groves in various cultures, and they play a role in many of the world's mythologies. ( Full article...)

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Ficus obliqua, Milton, New South Wales

Ficus obliqua, commonly known as the small-leaved fig, is a tree in the family Moraceae, native to eastern Australia, New Guinea, eastern Indonesia to Sulawesi and islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Previously known for many years as Ficus eugenioides, it is a banyan of the genus Ficus, which contains around 750 species worldwide in warm climates, including the edible fig (Ficus carica). Beginning life as a seedling, which grows on other plants ( epiphyte) or on rocks ( lithophyte), F. obliqua can grow to 60 m (200 ft) high and nearly as wide with a pale grey buttressed trunk, and glossy green leaves.

The small round yellow fruit ripen and turn red at any time of year, although ripening peaks in autumn and winter (April to July). Known as a syconium, the fruit is an inverted inflorescence with the flowers lining an internal cavity. Ficus obliqua is pollinated by two species of fig wasp Pleistodontes greenwoodi and P. xanthocephalus. Many species of bird, including pigeons, parrots and various passerines, eat the fruit. The range is along the east coast from Queensland, through New South Wales in rainforest, savanna woodland, sclerophyll forest and gallery forest. It is used as a shade tree in parks and public spaces, and is well-suited for use as an indoor plant or in bonsai. All parts of the tree have been used in traditional medicine in Fiji. ( Full article...)

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Saalfeld Easter egg tree with 9200 eggs, taken March 24, 2009

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A specimen at Dixsam plateau
Dracaena cinnabari, the Socotra dragon tree or dragon blood tree, is a dragon tree native to the Socotra archipelago, part of Yemen, located in the Arabian Sea. It is so called due to the red sap that the trees produce. ( Full article...)

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