Get AccuWeather alerts right in your browser!
Enable Notifications

This mesmerizing video of a strange tree phenomenon can bring peace to your day

By Adriana Navarro, AccuWeather staff writer
April 19, 2019, 1:49:55 PM EDT

As the wind moved through the trees in a forest near Tulum, Mexico, Dimitar Karanikolov, an architect and photographer, sent a drone high above the canopy in early April. Amid the chorus of songbirds and the rushing of wind, the trees sway back and forth, barely touching in the mesmerizing video he captured. The distance between them creates channels and tributaries of space in a phenomenon called "crown shyness."

This doesn't happen in every forest, and scientists are still stumped as to what makes trees so bashful. There is evidence that it occurs among trees of the same species and possibly the same age.

Crown Shyness

The trees in Plaza San Martin Buenos Aires form channels in the canopy in a phenomenon is known as "crown shyness." (Flickr/Dag Peak)

There are a few theories as to why this phenomenon occurs. One suggests that the wind is responsible, causing enough abrasion between the branches of neighboring trees to cause the gap. Much like two siblings on the verge of an argument, the trees end up just out of reach of poking each other. Just barely.

This theory's reception has been mixed, with a few studies confirming wind can have this effect while others have found "no significant difference" between sites with windy and sheltered stands of trees.

Others theorize that it is not the wind, but the neighboring trees that influence the creation of the phenomenon in their competition for sunlight. As the theory goes, trees may be able to detect the presence of another tree before being shaded by it. This is theorized to happen through trees perceiving the red of the light bounced from one leaf to another. Through this far-red light, the trees are able to sense leaves from other trees and naturally avoid the plants that could shade them from the sunlight they need.

Eerie video shows forest ‘breathing’ and it's freaking people out
Does a tree have a heartbeat?
Photos: 'Ghost forests' show the skeletons of dead trees as saltwater encroaches coastal areas

Some studies have shown that some trees with nearby relatives will specifically avoid growing in a way that would shade that neighbor.

Whether the shyness is from a sibling argument or family cooperation, the phenomenon retains its serenity.

Report a Typo


Comments that don't add to the conversation may be automatically or manually removed by Facebook or AccuWeather. Profanity, personal attacks, and spam will not be tolerated.

More Weather News