Community of Plants?

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Community of Plants?

Post by chris.malins »

I have been studying trees for many years now...since '85 when I trained as a tree surgeon, and the most exciting idea (based on indications by RS) which I am considering is that a tree is in fact a community of plants. Each plant (bud to leaf, flower and fruit) is a part of the 'community' of the Tree, which will accept its cousins in the form of grafts (i.e. from the same family), but a tree is not one plant in itself. I have studied the work of Alex Shigo amongst others and still find nothing to counter this theory. I am now of the opinion that each bud could be likened to an egg which hatches each year and sends its new roots down into the ground. This is also bourne out by the work of Shigo which suggests that the branches grow before the trunk. What do you all think? Is this a radical shift of perception? Can anyone offer me any info which may prove the case either way?
I think that this could be an interesting subject for further discussion and contemplation.
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Post by Mark »

Shigo looks interesting - but with so many books perhaps you could precis the relevant bits of his approach. I'm assuming you are referring to Lecture 7 of the Agriculture course ("To understand the tree, we must say: There is the thick tree-trunk (and in a sense the boughs and branches still belong to this). Out of all this the real plant grows forth. Leaves, flowers and fruit grow out of this; they are the real plant-rooted in the trunk and branches of the tree, as the herbaceous plants and cereals are rooted in the Earth.") I'm intrigued that you liken each 'plant' of the tree to an egg with roots. Do you want to say more please? .....
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Post by chris.malins »

ok, my egg image is purely that, an imagination to try to break away from my previous accepted conception, although in many ways a bud may be loosely likened to a fertilised egg although I am not stuck on this, it is as I have said more of af an imaginative aid to viewing things in a different way.
Anyway, I have been looking at this for quite some time and it was difficult to turn my (and the general) view, of the tree being, almost upside down....although having been studying Anthroposophy for many years I find that this is quite common with RS. If we consider a tree I believe the accepted view is that the buds burst when the energy from the earth surges up the tree and that how you see it? However, if it is such that each bud/egg is an individual plant and the forces that radiate down from the cosmos stimulate growth, then each new plant develops upwards with flower, leaf, shoot etc. (and often lays new buds/eggs on the way) and develops its own root system downwards in the trunk part creating the annual rings. This imagination is definitely a work in progress, to which I would appreciate feedback from others. If this is a true picture I seems that indications by RS are in the main correct although I dispute his statement that there is a parasitic relationship between plant and trunk as the trunk is the product of the individual plants. I am currently using the image of a tribe with a leader (apical dominance) which is resistant to all others joining said community except from the same family...i.e. grafts (lemons and orange as cousins for example). I will write more with info from Shigo when I have more time.
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Re: Community of Plants?

Post by Skalman »

According to Chris, the tree is similar to a community of plants. More specifically the yearly growth from a bud is a plant.

RS says that a tree trunk and a heap of soil rich in organic material are similar (Agcourse lec 4). He expands on this theme in lec 7. I think that what Chris says is by and large in accordance with what RS says about trees in lec 7, but RS explains that the plants in the tree don't have individual roots, but that these are merged together into the kambium layer. Please read yourselves, as RS says more than this.

Then I have some reflections, as follows:

In a tree we have apical dominance, meaning that the top shoot dominates over the lesser shoots, and gets more energy than they do.

Let us now look at a community of plants growing in the ground instead. Their roots do to some extent intermingle and interact. Specifically let us look at an agricultural field or a garden bed, with newly sown plants, that shoot up and try to establish a new community. Do we there also have something resembling apical dominance? I guess so. My impression is that in order to establish a good crop, we have to prepare the field in a good way, and then sow in due time (not too late) and sow seed of good quality and suitable variety, that fits the soil and location. Then we are giving Nature a good proposal what to grow in that field that year, which will help to suppress a lot of weed growth. If we fail to do that, Nature will start growing something else, and we will have weed problems, or more weed problems anyway.

An interesting side hypothesis is that this effect may be more pronounced in raised beds than in a plain field. I haven't tried this out, so my experience gives me little guidance what to believe. But it is easier to manage weeds in raised beds I think.

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