Heroes

Nocturnal activity, yearning for love, melodrama? Classic tree-puberty.

Seeing trees covered in flowers has always been my favorite part of spring. Now it seems even more delightful.

Nocturnal activity, yearning for love, melodrama? Classic tree-puberty.

Could you imagine going through puberty every single year? That's what springtime is like for trees.

It's a time when trees go through their own adolescence. And that means all kinds of awkward changes.

The science behind their yearly blooming is pretty fascinating. If you learned, or assumed, that trees turn green and put out flowers just because it's nice and warm again, you were not alone. That's what I thought, too! But ... you and I were both mistaken. The video from The Atlantic below breaks it all down for us.


Turns out, trees are real similar to human teenagers — like with their increased night activity.

Trees can actually tell how long the night lasts. They've got molecules called phytochrome in their cells that measure the nighttime.

And when the nights stop being so darn incredibly long, the tree knows it's go time.

All images via The Atlantic.

And they're all about gettin' it on.

Yep, those flowers are not just about looking pretty. Well, in a way they are, since flowers attract pollinators and that helps trees make baby trees. That's what spring is all about for trees — the birds and bees.

If you see a tree with these two different kinds of buds on it — vegetative buds and flower buds — you can tell it's about to become a sophisticated adult tree, with the tree equivalent of a driver's license and a varsity jacket.

And they're even prone to dramatic outbursts.

The most sad/poetic/tragically beautiful part is that if a tree is damaged, it starts to think that this could be its last spring as a tree. Which would mean its last opportunity to produce little tree offspring.

So, the hurt tree will put on a spectacular fireworks blowout of flowers. Gorgeous for us, but a little poignant. Kind of like spring itself.


Funny how their blossoming isn't half as awkward as ours usually is, though. Amirite?

In this video from The Atlantic, a journalist gets the full scoop from the National Arboretum itself:

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.