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ReLeaf Michigan brings awareness to importance of trees

Michigan is losing trees when they are needed the most. New research shows “there’s almost no public health, crime or environmental quality metric that isn’t made better by the presence of trees. Trees are infrastructure, and they are the cheapest way cities can make a difference in the lives of residents.” Yet Michigan is one of 23 states losing trees at an alarming rate.

​ Trees play a vital role in our community’s health and wellness in more ways than anyone might expect. They positively affect the cost of infrastructure, energy, property value, water and air purity, and even lower crime rates.

How do trees prepare for winter?

As anyone who has ever forgotten a glass bottle in a freezer knows, water expands when it freezes. The same expansion happens in the water in a tree’s leaves, where water content is highest. As a protective measure to prevent the leaves from breaking, deciduous trees drop their leaves altogether. In the fall before each winter, the cells at the base of each leaf stem form a barrier that keeps water and nutrients from traveling to the leaf.

But below-freezing temperatures are still a challenge. Although the most immediate danger of broken leaves has been solved, there is still much water in the trunk and branches that can cause damage to a tree. That’s why trees have functions to protect them even further from the cold! These functions are microscopic, cellular-level changes that control when and where the ice forms within the tree and its cells.

The leaves of evergreen trees additionally contain chemicals that act as antifreeze, binding and preventing ice from forming inside the leaves. These chemicals are what give evergreens their characteristic scent.

Big Tree Hunt

The hunt is on and the word is out! ReLeaf Michigan is on the hunt for the biggest trees in Michigan. The Michigan Big Tree Hunt is a great activity for families, groups of friends, fun dates, or solo adventurers. By identifying big trees everyone can take part in a statewide effort to track these living landmarks. Someone could find the largest tree in their county or even the state!

ReLeaf Michigan created the Michigan Big Tree Hunt in 1993 to celebrate the state’s beauty and create a fun way to gather information about Michigan’s biggest trees. It’s free to participate, and there’s nothing better than spending time outside appreciating the beauty and majesty of large trees.​ All age groups are encouraged to get out and join the hunt!

The 16th Biennial Michigan Big Tree Hunt (2023-2024) is now open. The contest runs through August 25, 2024.

Learn more about the contest and enter your big tree at



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