Have you ever come across a tree that seems to defy all odds and grows in a peculiar shape? It turns out that these oddly shaped trees may be a response to their environment. What appears to be a single unusual tree is an example of inosculation – the fusion of two separate trees.

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The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation recently shared a photo of a tree on its Facebook page that almost looks like the legs of a very tall individual in mid-walk and explained that inosculation occurs when two individual trees growing nearby become morphologically joined.

Although it may seem like a rare occurrence, it is a naturally occurring phenomenon that happens when trees collide and their bark wears away at the point of contact. As the outer layers of bark are worn down, the inner growth tissue of the trees, known as cambium, fuses together, allowing for the exchange of nutrients and water between them. This fusion allows the trees to create a symbiotic relationship, supporting each other's growth and survival.

Here's another fun fact. While inosculation is most visible to us when it happens between branches or trunks, it can also occur underground. When roots collide and connect, whether within a tree's root system or among several trees, inosculation can take place beneath the surface. This underground fusion enables the sharing of resources and strengthens the resilience of the interconnected trees.

Next time you stumble upon a tree growing in an astonishing shape, consider the possibility that it may be the product of inosculation. This natural occurrence showcases the resilience and adaptability of trees in response to their surroundings. Trees, in their own way, find unique and interconnected ways to survive and thrive!

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