Every day, trees in the forest compete with one another for the light needed to make their food. What can they teach us about surviving in a competitive world?
Find a mentor. Longer-living evergreens are often given an advantage in their younger years by shorter-lived deciduous nurse trees. In my yard, birches frequently shelter small spruce and firs from winds, snows and grazing mammals.
Make the most of the storms of life. When Hurricane Juan blew down mature trees in 2003, the forest suddenly was opened to a light it hadn’t seen in decades. Balsam firs and mountain ash took advantage of the increased light, experiencing exponential growth.
Know your competition and be ready to act. Scientists at the University of Buenos Aires recently discovered that plants are able to anticipate future competition from other plants in their environment by discerning a variance in the color of light that’s reflected off neighboring plants. If potential competition is sensed, they react by shooting up towards the light more quickly than normal.
Agility means that you are faster than your competition. Agile time frames are measured in weeks and months, not years.
~ Michael Hugos
Often, trees in the open will grow at a slower rate than those growing competitively in stands. If shallow-rooted, the former are also more likely to be toppled over during a windstorm.
I’m in competition with myself and I’m losing.
~ Roger Waters
And while the law of competition may be sometimes hard for the individual, it is best for the race, because it ensures the survival of the fittest in every department.
~ Andrew Carnegie
Winners will go on to litter the forest floor with the next generation of trees for years to come.
This post is in response to Assignment 15: Competition over at Scott’s Views Infinitum.