Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

What Do Trees Do for Dinner?

Trees need food just like you. They make their own. The leaves do the cooking. All they need is water, air, and sunshine.

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When leaves are green, they are making food. They take in air. They mix in water sent up from the roots. They use the heat from the sun to cook their dinner.
Pipelines in Pipelines
Inside every tree there are hollow pipes. The roots use some of these pipes to send water to the leaves. The leaves use some of these pipes to send food to the rest of the tree. Every year a tree grows more pipes. To us they look like rings in the wood.

How Trees Drink
Trees drink with their roots. Underground, under every tree, there is a root system that extends two to four times further than the branches of the tree. The part of the tree you can't see is bigger than the part you can! Trees have more roots than they have branches. Attached to every root are tiny root hairs which have beneficial fungi growing on and in them (mycorrhizae). They act like miniature straws to draw up water and nutrients. That mixture is sent up the pipeline to the leaves. Roots also receive food from the pipeline so they can grow.


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This information is taken from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Kids for Trees. For more information and activities about trees, check their website.

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