Come face to face with these 7 trees for National Forest Week | Great Lakes Guide

Environment and Education

Come face to face with these 7 trees for National Forest Week

Published September 25, 2020

It’s Sep-TIMBERRRR 20-26th—National Forest Week!

It’s the perfect time to celebrate all the trees in the Great Lakes region that provide us with shade, resources, pretty colours in the fall—and not to mention oxygen!

It’s easy to take the abundance of trees in the Great Lakes region for granted, but have you ever wondered…

Why do so many trees grow around the Great Lakes?

The area around the Great Lakes is uniquely well-suited for different forest regions in Ontario. Thousands of years ago, glaciers enveloped all of the area that’s now home to the Great Lakes. When these glaciers melted and retreated, they left behind rich soil full of nutrients that helped trees to grow.

Trees in Ontario are constantly drinking in water from the Great Lakes. In fact, even if you’re nowhere near the Great Lakes, the lakes are all around you. Every leaf on every tree you see needs water to grow.

    The Great Lakes are vital for forests in Ontario, but did you know that trees also benefit the Great Lakes?

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Chapel Rock, Lake Superior. Credit: Mike (Flickr: Link)

How do trees benefit the Great Lakes region?

It’s all thanks to a process called phytoremediation (“phyto,” meaning relating to plants, and “remediation,” meaning to remedy something).

Through phytoremediation, trees around the Great Lakes are able to reduce pollutants in the soil and lessen their effects in the environment. Trees can actually help clean up pollution from landfills, dumps, or other waste sites.

Thanks to their quick growth and deep, expansive network of roots, Poplars and Willows do an excellent job of sucking up contaminants from soil, groundwater, and nearby waterways (kind of like huge straws).

    Yes, it wouldn’t be the Great Lakes region without trees.

To celebrate National Forest Week, here are 7 trees that would like a word with you…


Hungry Herman

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Credit: Ross (Flickr: Link)

“Don’t look at me like that… I’m just supplementing the nutrients in my soil.”

Did You Know?

Trees increase the soil's ability to absorb and retain water, produce nutrients for plants, maintain high levels of organic matter in the soil, and moderate soil temperatures. They maintain soil fertility.


Hugo the Hypnotist

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Credit: debs-eye (Flickr: Link)

“Look into my eyes, look deeeeeeeep into my eyes… you will recycle from this day until your last.”

Did You Know?

When you recycle or use recycled paper, you are helping to reduce the 7,000 gallons of water that are needed to make one ton of paper as well as offsetting the billions of trees that are used to produce paper every year.


Noisy Naomi

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Credit: Ashley Bowes

"If I holler through a megaphone in a forest and no one is around to hear it, do I make a sound?"

Did You Know?

Trees make noise as they grow and react to the environment around them. As a tree experiencing drought struggles to draw water up from the soil, for example, it will make different sounds than a tree that is getting enough water.


Befuddled Bertha

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Credit: ithinkx (Flickr: Link)

“This Treegonomety makes no sense. I’m stumped.”

Did You Know?

You can use trigonometry to estimate the height of a tree! Think about drawing an imaginary right angled-triangle between where you are standing, the tree’s base, and the tree’s top. Then use this formula to find the height: Height = tan(angle) x distance from you to the tree.


Troubled Mr. Trunkett

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Credit: stanze (Flickr: Link)

Why the long face, Mr. Trunkett?

"I'm hollow inside!"

Did You Know?

Many living trees actually have hollow, rotten, or dead areas inside due to fungal infections. Even more surprisingly, many trees simply allow their central wood to decay so that they can better defend more important structural areas.


Grouchy Gustav

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Credit: Rick Cameron (Flickr: Link)

“Leaf me alone. No one sticks around me anyway”

(Don’t worry, Gustav’s bark is worse than his bite.)

Did You Know?

Most trees grow best when they are spaced 2 metres apart. When trees are planted close together, they grow closer together like they do in a forest. When trees are plated farther apart, their canopies spread out more and sit closer to the ground.


Shady Sue

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Credit: Ian Jacobs (Flickr: Link)

"I'm not throwing shade! I just soaked up some very acidic soil."

(Sorry Sour Sue, my mistake.)

Did You Know?

Some trees need more acidic soil than others. Balsam Fir, Maple, and Willow trees grow best in more acidic soils, while Flowering Dogwood, American Beech, and Japanese Cedar prefer less acidic soils.

Continue celebrating National Forest Week with these articles:

Use this guide to plan the ultimate fall forest adventure

Visit these parks to see fall colours in Ontario

What is forest bathing? Discover how to soak up nature

Nature from home: 24 trees to look for in your neighbourhood

Nature from home: 6 traditional medicines you can make at home