It would surprise you greatly to count up all of the stuff you use in a day’s time that was derived entirely or partially from trees. With Arbor Day coming for many states, I thought I’d point out some unlikely tree products for your enlightenment.
Cinnamon toast: Cinnamon is ground up bark from the Cinnamon tree. Nutmeg, allspice and cloves are all flavors from trees.
Vanilla ice cream: Real vanilla comes from the seed of a vine in a tropical forest.
Leather boots: To turn animal hide into leather it must be treated with tannic acid (“tan your hide”). Tannic acid is extracted from tree bark, especially oak.
Cellophane: Cellulose (the stuff that makes wood “woody”) is chemically treated and used to make this very handy food wrap.
Toothpaste: Cellulose is used as a binder and polish.
Shampoo: Cellulose is used as a thickener so it won’t run off your hand.
Rubber bands: Real rubber comes from the sap of the rubber tree, and when extracted is called latex. It’s in your car tires as well.
Chewing gum: The “gum” refers to the sap or gum of the Sapodilla tree is used for the chewy part of many chewing gums.
Coke: Coca-cola, Pepsi Cola, Royal Crown Cola, Dr. Pepper, these caffeinated soft drinks get some of their flavoring from the seed of the Cola Nut Tree.
Almond Mounds bar: This diet buster is almost all tree. Chocolate comes from cocoa, obtained from the seed of the Cacao Nut tree. Coconut comes from tree fruit, as does almonds. And don’t forget the wrapper is tree stuff also.
Perfume: Myrrh, frankincense, wintergreen, several nice smells come from trees
Toilet paper: There are an estimated 12,000 kinds of paper products, and this one is particularly handy.
2 by 4: Almost all houses have at least some wood in them. It might interest you to know that the number one use of wood worldwide is not lumber or even paper, but heat. One half of the Earth’s human population uses wood to cook and to keep warm. Two out of every three trees cut are used for firewood.
Shade: It’s a blessing to stand under a big shade tree on a hot summer’s day.
Viewscapes: This is a fancy word for scenery or vistas. When you look off in the distance anywhere around here, especially the mountains, you are looking at countless tree canopies that greatly add to the beauty of the view. So enjoy it, and give thanks for trees.
Steve Roark is the area forester in Tazewell, Tennessee, for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division.