When a leaf is plucked from a tree, does it hurt the tree?



The word hurt may mean injure, or it may mean pain. The plucking of a leaf does not pain the tree, because a tree does not feel anything that we should call pain. The reason is that a tree doesn’t have a nervous system. But when a living green leaf is plucked from a tree, the living cells where the break is made must feel something, only if it is a very faint feeling.  However, we must not think that it is in the least like pain, or that it is possible to be cruel to a tree, as one might be cruel to a cat. When a dead leaf falls from a tree, the tree can not feel. This is because a layer of something like cork has been formed at the base of the leaf, so the leaf is no longer part of the living tree.

If hurt means injure or harm, that is really another question. The leaf exists for the life of the tree. It serves to feed the tree, it breathes for the tree, and helps to remove from it the excess water which the roots have sucked up. Of course a tree has many leaves, and so to pluck one cannot hurt the tree much. However, if we were to strip all the leaves off a tree in the sprig, we should soon find that it has harmed the tree. But when winds blows the leaves off a tree in the autumn, the tree is not harmed, for it has already taken what it wanted out of the leaves, and has no use for leaves until the next year.

Additional reading:
Tree (Wikipedia)


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