Trees are the one organism that we depend on in order to survive. In fact, we both depend on one another as trees take in the carbon dioxide we breathe out and humans inhale the oxygen that trees let off as a by-product of photosynthesis. Here is part two in our blog series on how trees helped to shape and change the world…

The Rhynie Ecosystem

If you’re looking to catch a quick glimpse of this primitive forest, you should head to the hills that surround the village of Rhynie in Aberdeenshire, UK. Here you can see finely crystallised quartz that have preserved in exquisite detail an entire ecosystem that dates back to around 410 million years ago! Standing upright, even the cells are visible on the fossil plants and creatures such as centipedes and spiders have been preserved too.


It is important that we remember the Rhynie landscape was not completely made up of large living organisms. Dotted around several located are columns which stand up to 5 metres high with a metre wide base. Eventually they were identified as conifer trunks known as Prototaxites. Various studies have been undertaken into their wood which revealed that they are not trees but in fact a fungus. Overall, they show that there were large patches in early Devonian landscapes that had no vascular plants meaning that plants did not taken over the land as quickly as scientists had predicted.

The Rise of Forests

As it was discovered that large patches of land were still uninhabited by vascular plants, it was clear that plants needed to adapt in order to continue their terrestrial conquest. During ‘secondary growth’, or the evolution of more advanced tissues that made way for longer stems, terrestrial conquest was able to spread and allowed larger plants to grow. In fact, it was these developments that allowed trees in the Gilboa forest to reach heights of 8 metres or more and as such, foresting had started. With trees that we imagine today appearing, the game of survival changed and the trees would compete for height, sunlight and dominance. The goal was to reach the top to get as much sunlight as possible.

Here at Ashley Tree Services, we are sometimes astounded by how tall some of the trees we are called out to deal with can become. In fact, we tend to forget that trees had to adapt themselves in order to grow that high! If you’re looking for the experts on all things tree related, get in contact with the best tree surgeon Manchester has to offer today!