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.

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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