In my fictional world, the planet has some very strong winds that regularly blow across large areas of land. In this world, however, very large, tall trees grow (the reason for the size of the tree is because each of them needs to be able to grow fruits which are large enough for humans to fit in - the blowing of the winds moves the fruit, and humans can sneak inside the hollow fruit in order to achieve transportation).

The problem is that a larger, taller tree would be disadvantaged in such a windy environment, due to the difficulty in remaining sturdy and stable and not snapping - as such, most trees wouldn't normally grow to be this tall. Hence, my question is why would a tree grow to such heights when it is illogical to do so normally?

As a note, the trees grew to this size naturally - they were not specially hand-picked, modified and bred by humans to be this large.

  • $\begingroup$ sturdiness is not the only problem, high winds also draws water out of a tree, so it will suffer from chronic water shortage. Also if hte wind is strong enough to move a human, it will strip away all the soil so there is nothing for the tree to grow in. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Apr 15 '20 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ i assume the tree is not like coconut or bamboo right ? though i dont know the reason, i see some extra big tree grow in rainforest despite it get lots of strong wind for example like this one $\endgroup$
    – Li Jun
    Apr 15 '20 at 5:40
  • $\begingroup$ Trees in a forest 'rise above' to beat out other trees for sunlight. The forest provides them an ecosystem and some protection from winds (walk in an open field vs in a woods). I think the goal here is to optimize a tree in a REALLY severe wind setting, able to move giant pods. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Apr 15 '20 at 12:31


  • This may be a little crazy, but why not? What's extremely tall, thin, and needs to be where the wind is high? These trees may have somehow evolved a way to take advantage of wind power (to pump water from deep underground, some sort of electrostatic energy production, whatever!) Such a shift in energy production would be a huge evolutionary advancement, and the trees would rapidly evolve into redwood-sized monsters to gather the most power. The wind can be strong at the top of the tree without the soil having to blow away.
  • The really tall part of the tree can be a sort of fruiting body. Hundreds (or thousands) of 'lesser' trees may be all joined up in a network to provide the giant tree with the nutrients it needs to produce the giant pods the tree colony needs to reproduce. It could be as water-efficient as a cactus if it didn't produce its own food but relied on the other trees for energy and water.
  • $\begingroup$ It sounds crazy, and I can't pretend to work out the details, but here is something a little like what I'm thinking atelierdna.com/portfolio/windstalk $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Apr 15 '20 at 4:00
  • $\begingroup$ I do actually like the second idea! It could provide a good plot element where the society of a village on a planet is centered around growing a giant tree in order to harvest the giant fruits they need to travel elsewhere, creating an alternation between nomad and settler. $\endgroup$
    – bio
    Apr 16 '20 at 0:09

Why would a tree species grow very large in what is a very windy environment?

Because that is what they do naturally! Wind blowing on trees causes the root system to grow larger and deeper. This in turn allows the tree to grow larger and taller.

Trees grow bigger and taller in windy environments. Here on Earth, the tallest trees, redwoods and sequoias, grow in windy coastal environments. The largest species of trees always grow in the windiest areas.

I suggest you do some research. Here is an article that talks about it. And here is another one.

  • $\begingroup$ I’m not sure this is always true. Sequoias don’t grow anywhere need the coast and redwoods don’t grow well there because of salt spray and wind. The tallest redwoods are in inland valleys, protected from the wind. $\endgroup$ Apr 15 '20 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ @syrupstitious Obviously, you didnt read the articles discussing the scientific facts. $\endgroup$
    – Keltari
    Apr 15 '20 at 10:44
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Both articles are blogs from a human spirituality leader and neither cite any science $\endgroup$ Apr 15 '20 at 18:35

why would a tree grow to such heights when it is illogical to do so normally?

A tree don't care about your logic. A tree don't ask for reasons to grow where it seed have fallen. A tree don't need your approval for it to grow tall.

First things - strong wind is wind until the tree is strong enough to stop the wind.

Wind affecting the forest

The roots of tree is always bigger than what is above th surface. So if the there is grass, moss, a dead animal, rock, that shelter that seed for few weeks then it's good enough to go up. With each tree it make wind weaker allowing other trees to grow in it's wake. The further down the wake the taller the tree grow for it to sek the sun. And wind to spread it seeds.

Tree growing under wind

Tress laugh in general direction of your logic. They grow against the wind. Not with it. They don't conform what is normal to you.

  • $\begingroup$ Might want to tone down the sarcasm a wee bit... 😜 $\endgroup$ Apr 15 '20 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ @TedWrigley I was aiming for a forest druid taklking to a Vulcan ;) $\endgroup$ Apr 16 '20 at 6:55

They are very large. But they are long, not tall.

windswept tree


Good sites for trees are rare in your aeolian (may I use the term "aeolian"?) environment. If one takes root it intends to stay as long as possible. Large mass is ballast against the wind. A long trunk extending laterally over the ground also offers opportunity for adventitious roots* anchoring the tree at other nearby sites (and maybe tapping resources available there).

I like your wind dispersed tumbleweed pumpkins. I would not, however, particularly want to ride in one.

*Adventitious roots are not that uncommon. It looks like they are more useful against occasional storms (as a banyan might encounter) than in species that live in high winds all the time. I could find no krummholz trees with adventitious roots helping them out. If anyone can find an image of one of these windswept trees using adventitious prop roots please link it up.


Perhaps the strong winds blow in fog? Redwoods grow so tall because they don’t need to siphon water from the soil to the canopies- instead, they get moisture directly from the air. Perhaps there is a near perpetual low hanging fog and the trees need to grow tall to reach above the cloud line?

Or perhaps there are common fires? Bigger trees tend to be more resistant to fires. The larger the cambium, the less likely the dry, flammable center of the tree will be exposed by fire and the more likely it can recover.

Symbiosis is another option. In dense forests, there are whole ecosystems built on the tops of trees — epiphytes, amphibians in bromeliad water pools, bugs in humus mats, etc live hundreds of feet up. The taller the tree, the more diverse the ecosystem. While I don’t think the tree gets much benefit from this in real life, you could easily design a relationship where the tree needs these animals for nutrition or reproduction or protection.

Or the opposite- the trees grow so tall to avoid a predator on the ground. Like an absurdly tall brontosaurus or something.

Lastly, pollination. The higher the tree, the stronger the winds, the further the pollen carries. Boom, evolution. You get illogically tall trees.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.