Trees and Forest Vocabulary

Forest - trees and their environment.
Succession - the changes in a forest over time.
Deciduous Trees - these trees lose their leaves in the fall.
Coniferous Trees - these are evergreen trees and they do not lose their leaves in the fall. They have needle-like leaves.
Levels of the Forest
Upper Canopy - top of the forest formed by leaves and branches of the tallest trees.  Birds (for example, Owls), insects (for example, aphids or tent caterpillars) make this area their home.
Understory - level below the canopy.  Smaller trees and larger shrubs are found in this area.  Provides shelter for a variety of birds and small mammals (for example, squirrels and woodpeckers).
Underbrush - level before the forest floor.  It is populated by ferns, wildflowers, insects (example, butterflies), small mammals (example, mice), and larger mammals (example, deer).
Forest Floor - the bottom level of the forest - includes groundcover and soil.  You will find the decomposers here (example, worms, bacteria and soil insects).  As well, tree roots are visible and there is a lot of dead, decomposing material. 
Tree Processes
Transpiration - moisture given off by plants through their leaves.

Photosynthesis - plants convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and nutrients (sugars) for the plant to use.    
Chlorophyll - part in the plant cell that makes the plant green.  This substance is needed for photosynthesis.
Stomata - tiny openings on the underside of a plant's leaves.  It is where gases (oxygen and carbon dioxide) are exchanged.
Examining a Tree
Tree Cookie - cross section of a tree.  Helps to show the life story of a tree.
Leaf - the flat green or needle part of a plant that makes food through photosynthesis.
Leaf Scar - the scar left by a leaf of a deciduous trees when the leaf falls off in the fall.
Girdle - a scar on the branch of a tree showing one year of the branches growth.    
 Bark - the outside covering of a tree.  The function of bark is to protect andf insulate the tree.   
Cambrium - the inside of the trunk where the tree grows.  Its function is to produce new wood and bark.
Sapwood (xylem) - the softer living part of the wood around the heartwood.  Its function is to move sap from the roots to the leaves.
Phloem - the inner part of the tree.  Its function is to carry food from the branches and leaves to the roots.
Heartwood - the older dead part of wood near the middle of the tree.  Its function is to support the tree.
Pith - it is the central core of the tree.    
The Environment of the Forest
Ecosystem - interactions that link the living things and the non-living things in an environment.
Habitat - the natural home of an organism (animal, plant, insect).
Abiotic - the non-living parts of the environment.  This includes soil, air, water, sunlight, temperature, wind, and terrain. 
Biotic - the living parts of the environment.  This includes all living things, plants, animals, microorganisms.
Producer - plants that produce their own food through photosynthesis.

Consumer - organism that must get food from the environment (they do not make their own).

Primary Consumer - eats producers.
Secondary Consumer - eats primary consumer.
Tertiary Consumer - eats secondary consumer.
Decomposers - feed on the dead material and put nutrients back into the soil. 
  • Fungi - organisms that lack roots, stems and leaves.  They cannot photosynthesize to make their own food.  Examples are mildews, rusts, smuts, mushrooms, conks and molds.   
 Conks - fungus found attached to tree trunks.  It grows like steps or shelves and have growth rings like trees.  

Lichens - a fungus and algae working together.  The fungus absorbs water and nutrients and the algae produces the food.

Mycorrhizal fungi - it grows on the roots of trees.  Some of these fungi help the tree by gathering nutrients and water,but some harm trees.