First Evidence That Trees Actually “Sleep”

Images of a drooping tree at night and an alert one during the day
At night (left) tree branches droop more than during the day (right) Image courtesy of Vienna University of Technology, TU Vienna

According to a new study done by researchers at the Technical University of Vienna in Austria, Center for Ecological Research in Tihany, Hungary, and Finnish Geospatial Research Institute in Masala, trees have now been recorded to show signs of ‘rest’ at night. The test was done by scanning branches of birch trees, one in Finland and one in the country of Austria in one single night.

The scanning was done on these tree’s on nights without wind or other effects. “We’re certain it’s not caused by another effect,”  Norbert Pfeifer said, a team member.

It is believed by the team that the branches are drooping at night, according to their evidence. Their explanation is that photosynthesis deosn’t happen in the dark, according to team member András Zlinszky of the Center for Ecological Research.

Although this has been recorded in smaller plants, never before have we seen physical effects on trees brought on at night.

Now we know that birch tree’s sleep. So, the team is hoping to continue their research to confirm what other species of trees “sleep”.

“There have been some studies on circadian rhythms in trees, mostly studying gene expression, but this latest research is a beautiful way to watch it happen in individual trees,” says C. Robertson McClung of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. “It shows things are happening in the real world.” -From New Scientist


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