What does a tree do with the extra energy it makes?



I know trees can store extra energy in sap, but what do they do when they have no more room for storage? I don’t see trees getting super fat or growing insanely tall. So what to they do to stop producing too much energy?

In: Biology

Trees regulate how much energy they make by growing or shedding leaves, based on the availability of resources like sunlight and water. In temperate forests, deciduous (i.e. non-evergreen) trees grow leaves in the spring and summer when there’s more sunlight to support growth and shed them in the autumn and in periods of drought when they’re not growing as much and the leaves become more energetically costly to maintain than they’re worth. The size and shape of the leaves also plays a role.

There are fungal networks in the ground that allow trees to share resources. It’s actually very fascinating. Essentially, the trees have a symbiotic relationship with these fungi and share their resources with them and other trees through them.

If you would like to learn more, here is an excellent and entertaining radiolab podcast on it.