In a remote region of China lie the fascinating remains of what was likely the world’s first trees. They thrived in the Devonian period of —400 million years ago. Known today as Cladoxylopsida, these specimens grew to about 12 meters in height and sprouted branches at the very top similar to what we find in palm trees. Cladoxylopsida grew in abundance; forests of them covered the earth. Because of that, they played a huge role in helping other life forms come to being.

How Trees Give Life

Photosynthesis is the process wherein a plant turns energy from the sun into glucose, in turn releasing a byproduct into the atmosphere that animals find just slightly useful: Oxygen. And because plants—and trees—also absorb carbon dioxide, the air becomes all the safer to breathe for the likes of you and me. The fossilized remains of those specimens found in China were the start of it all. Little by little, the planet became a more and more friendly place to hang your hat. Now, there are companies like Waterloo Tree Service Pros that can take care of our lovely trees.

The most important role trees play for life on this planet is photosynthesis. Because of them, we have clean air to breathe. In just one year, an acre of fully grown trees can provide enough oxygen for twenty people. Trees also absorb odor and filter the air even further by trapping undesirable particles in their leaves. Did we say they absorb odor? With their blossoms (in the case of the redwood, its bark), they also emit pleasant odors that have been proven to reduce stress. With a simple rope and stick, a tree swing can do even more than that—it can help you kick your legs to the sky.

Trees and Surroundings

Speaking of reduced stress, trees are simply pleasant to look at. They can make you hesitate on a busy day, quell a bad mood, or even inspire one to poetry. Poplars, willows, oaks, and maples cool the streets with their shade. Magnolias, dogwoods, and cherries color the landscape with beautiful blossoms. The spicy scent of a redwood lingers for years about every piece it serves to construct. Pines whisper softly on the wind. The sweetgum lights up fall with its star-shaped leaves. Trees bring people together for shelter from a storm, respite from the heat, or even just a smile and a wave hello.

Trees Provide Food

Trees provide homes and food for our feathered friends. The bald eagle prefers an older tree with high branches. Robins love the fruit-bearing limbs of hawthorn and dogwood. Speaking of fruit, we humans eat plenty of it ourselves. Apples, peaches, pears, bananas, and cherries are barely the start. Culinary nuts such as almonds, chestnuts, pecans, and hazelnut are all given to us by trees. Still hungry? Don’t forget the maple syrup for those pancakes. Or maybe you prefer chocolate instead? Oh, and what goes better with breakfast than a cup of coffee? It all happens courtesy of trees.

Trees Give Fresh Air and Cool Environment

Proper tree placement around a home can save big family money on electricity. Cooler air near the house means less work for the air conditioner. And the more energy we save, the healthier our environment gets. Shade from these same trees can slow down water evaporation on a hot day. On stormy days they’ll soak up rainwater that could otherwise carry debris to the ocean—thinking about a retaining wall for the lawn? Why not plant trees instead? Trees can slow down erosion, just like a retaining wall, safeguarding a landscape’s integrity.

Trees Provide Shade

Skin cancer is a common form of cancer in the United States and throughout the world. But did you know that with their shade trees actually help to reduce ultraviolet rays? School systems certainly do. That’s why they’ve been active with the planting of trees on their campuses and playgrounds so their children can be safer. Nor does it stop there. Cities and small towns have been involved with the planting of more trees for decades. Since 1976 the Tree City U.S.A. program has been making cities green by encouraging them to grow more trees. Today nearly 4,000 communities are committed to its ideals. A city always looks better with trees. Especially when the city provides tree trimming. Be they for parks, lining the street, or just for a place to sit and read, your city’s trees help define its entire culture.

Trees are Vital Part Part of Our Life

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein is a book about the many things a tree can do for just one person. Its author was more right than he knew. Trees do indeed give and give without ever asking for a thing in return. Unlike the boy in the book, we give back anyway, with a bit of nourishment, a bit of pruning, and a whole lot of love. Here’s to trees, and the many future works they’re sure to inspire.