Thinking Like a Tree

The sunlight reflected so brightly off this blob it kind of blinded me for a second. This picture in no way captures what I saw. It had the glint of a jewel.

tree resin
tree resin

I had to touch it but I was afraid it would burst like a soap bubble. I didn’t need to worry; the surface of the bubble was quite solid.

It was hardened resin and kind of looks like a tree’s version of the blisters I get on my feet.

I have heard that bees collect plant resins to make propolis. At least one scientist has found that propolis has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties for bee colonies. Maybe resin blobs are the apothecaries of the insect world.

Besides bees, other insects like ants and mosquitoes find resins attractive or so many wouldn’t have been caught in amber. Are they attracted to the bright light and colour as I was? When they see a bubble does it look like precious water?

Maybe there is a chemical component to the attraction. Some resins like frankincense and pine have strong perfumes. Even humans can smell them from far away. Do all resins emit perfumes to attract insects? Resins are hydrocarbons … and hydrocarbons are fragrant.

Maybe resin is a multimodal beacon or distress call.

Something wounded this tree; it might still be present. If the tree can attract an ant or well any predator to investigate maybe the intruder can be eliminated. Meanwhile, the resin will help keep the wound clean and protect the outer surface from further injury.

Multiple functions and multiple connections. I know I am hopelessly nerdy but I really do have fun trying to connect the dots.

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30 thoughts on “Thinking Like a Tree

  1. It is beautiful and it makes sense that it has the same anti- bacterial, anti- fungal properties as propolis. I imagine it serves the same purpose, protecting the tree from infection.
    And presumably it is not poisonous to crows either, which is good.

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  2. Love your write-up, it sure is nice to investigate everything nature gives us, or we discover. So much beauty all around us. :-)

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  3. That is fascinating…and actually propolis has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral properties for us too. I have used it for many ailments including sore throats…it is amazing how quickly it heals.

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    1. That is good to know. The next time I get a poison ivy rash (and yes I am certain there WILL be a next time) it might be good to make a salve that includes some.

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  4. I think of these “natural” communications like telephone wires. I rarely notice the wires and yet conversations and messages are traveling back and forth overhead. The trees are in constant communication with the flora and fauna around them too, holding conversations of their own if you will, whether or not we notice. (and I’m so glad you did!).

    Gleaming shots are tricky, aren’t they? When I enlarge your resin drop as much as my computer will let me I notice what looks like dozens (maybe hundreds?) of little colonies of green dotting the surface. That resin drop looks to contain it’s own multitudes… Absolutely fascinating.

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    1. That was a tricky shot. I tried a million angles and was happy with none. Next time I see something like that I think I will treat it like a sunflare maybe? Use a longer shutter time or maybe focus on something else and make the resin part of the background.

      When I first started getting interested in the idea of permaculture I asked the Ladybird Wildlife peeps if they knew what plants made up a traditional pecan guild. Like, which plants normally would have grown nearby to add nitrogen into the soil, any that might have supplemented the zinc, which ones attracted predators … that kind of thing. They didn’t know and said nobody bothered to collect that kind of info in the field when these plants were first identified. All trees and no forest. I have continued the search but like them I have just come up empty for the most part. Which means my blog address is all wrong: my garden will never be a restoration project but more of a rehabilitation ultimately.

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  5. The resin jewel is lovely. One of the reasons that that unprocessed, local honey is so good for people to eat is because of all that antibacterial goodness. Munching on the beeswax with the propolis, yummy and healthy.

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  6. You are not nerdy! I love this post and your rationale. I knew bees lined their hive with antibacterial but I had no idea it was propolis. Just googled .. You could be right about the tree encouraging bugs to assist with its security! Love the pics 😀

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