We all know that trees are important for keeping our air clean, converting carbon dioxide into oxygen through photosynthesis. We also know that trees are useful in a wide range of ways, from providing food – to us and to animals in our food chain – to the use of wood in building and construction.

Trees have a great many uses, and are very important, as well as decorative and useful for providing shade and shelter.

But there are some amazing facts about trees that might surprise you.

Our first fact; the poisonous apple that the evil Queen fed to Snow White, dropping her into a coma, isn’t entirely fictitious. The Guinness book of records contains the title “world’s most dangerous tree” – a title given to manchineel tree from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. The apples that grow on this sneaky tree are known as ‘beach apples’ or ‘death apples’ – they have a sweet taste, but are agonising to eat thanks to ulceration of the mouth and oesophagus from even a tiny bite; consuming more than that can kill.

As well as that evil fairy tale apple the sap on the bark is poisonous and has been used to coat arrows for hunting; and don’t even think about burning the wood – the smoke released can cause blindness!

Fact two; trees cure cancer. We all know that the willow bark is the source of asprin but few people realise that graviola, an extract from trees in areas of South America, has been proven to kill some kinds of cancer cells that chemotherapy can’t.

Fact three; trees can talk. No, really, they communicate. I don’t mean whispers in the forests, but willows and poplar, when under siege from insects munching on their leaves, produce excess chemicals that not only make them less satisfying for bugs to snack on but also communicate to trees close by, which also produce these chemicals in response.

Fact four; trees make you money. If your property has well maintained, mature trees in the gardens this can increase your property’s value by up to 15%

Fact five; trees also SAVE you money – they shelter your buildings from the elements, meaning your rain, wind and sun damage is reduced, and you can save money on maintenance.

Fact six; one fig tree produces enough fruit to feed a grown man his full calorie requirements and would support you for life if well cared for. It might get a little dull just eating figs though!

Fact seven; two mature trees produce enough clean oxygen to support a family of four. A single tree produces 260 pounds of oxygen each year.

Fact eight; if you drive 26,000 miles in one year it would only take one healthy, mature tree to cleanse that carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. That’s a lot of cleaning!

Fact nine; when Japan was devastated by the 2011 tsunami a single tree survived the extreme weather – and became a symbol of hope for the survivors. Later salt water damage killed the roots and experts saved the tree with synthetic roots and a metal framework.

Fact ten; there are possibly hundreds of ‘moon trees’ undiscovered around the world. In 1971 astronaut Stuart Roosa took 500 seeds into space in Apollo 14, orbited the moon 34 times, then sent the saplings produced from planting the trees around the globe during America’s Bicentennial celebrations. Records of the trees were lost until school children found a ‘moon tree’ plaque in 1997 and so far 50 moon trees have been traced; maybe you have one in your neighbourhood!

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