The Shapes of Trees and a Sense of Place

Tree shapes are dictated by the needs of the tree and reflect the places we find them.

There are dozens of methods for using trees to find direction, but trees also give us a sense of place. One of the more general ways they do this is by offering insight into the climate of an area.

Sixty years ago Harold Gatty, the legendary navigator and natural navigator, wrote,

“Nature designed the basic shapes of trees principally in order to satisfy their differing light requirements… Some trees of temperate climates, such as the cypresses, also have a pyramid form. They adopt this shape to avoid the excessive heat of the high sun at midday and to obtain the full benefit of light in the morning and the afternoon.”

So here we have some cypresses enjoying the early light of Madrid, ready to present a much leaner profile to the hotter midday sun.