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We don't know what a tree is (and this video won't tell you)

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Channel: MinuteEarth
Categories: Biology   |   Environmental   |   Science  
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It turns out that defining what is and isn't a tree is way harder than it seems.

To learn more about this topic, start your googling with these keywords:
Wood: A bunch of cellulose fibers intertwined with lignin usually found in the trunk of a tree.
Trunk: A wooden stem that thickens over time.
Bonsai: An ornamental tree or shrub that is artificially prevented from reaching its normal size.
Shrub: A woody plant that is smaller than a tree.
Gymnosperm: A group of plants, including conifers, that have naked seeds.
Angiosperm: A group of plants, including lots of other trees that have enclosed seeds.
Monocots: A group of flowering plants - mostly angiosperms - with a single embryonic leaf that includes palm trees.
Dicots: A group of flowering plants - mostly angiosperms - with two embryonic leaves that includes oak trees.

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Georg Miehe, Sabine Miehe, Jonas Vogel, Sonam Co, Duo La. (2007) "Highest Treeline in the Northern Hemisphere Found in Southern Tibet," Mountain Research and Development, 27(2), 169-173. Retrieved from:

Ellenberg, H., Mueller-Dombois, D. (1965). A key to Raunkiaer plant life forms with revised subdivisions. Retrieved from:

Alcott, D. (2019). Are palm trees really trees? Thats Life Science. Retrieved from:

David B. Neale, Pedro J. Martnez-Garca, Amanda R. De La Torre, Sara Montanari, Xiao-Xin Wei. (2017). Novel Insights into Tree Biology and Genome Evolution as Revealed Through Genomics. Annual Review of Plant Biology 68:1, 457-483. Retrieved from:

Ehrenberg, Rachel. (2018). What Makes A Tree A Tree? Knowable Magazine. Retrieved from:,cells%20typical%20of%20most%20trees

Christophe Plomion, Grgoire Leprovost, Alexia Stokes. (2001). Wood Formation in Trees. Plant Physiology, Volume 127, 4: 15131523. Retrieved from:

Ray, Georgia (2021). "Theres no such thing as a tree (phylogenetically)". Eukaryote Writes Blog. Retrieved from:

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