December 7, 2020
Ben here with the Monday edition of #BenInNature! Here we see a pine tree that I had to cut up after it fell across my road, one of approximately seven million such pine trees that have fallen across my road over the last couple years (it feels like that many, anyway). You'll notice the gooey resin dripping from the cut trunk, and like me, you might wonder why pine trees produce this sticky stuff!
First things first, resin is not the same thing as sap. Pine trees also produce sap, but it's a thin, watery substance. While trees use sap to circulate water and nutrients through the entire tree, sort of like how our bodies use blood, resin is a different substance that fulfills a different purpose. If you cut a branch off a pine tree, it will begin oozing resin, which helps seal the wound and protect it from insects. Not only that, but pine resin has antibacterial properties that help protect the tree from dangerous pathogens!
If you've seen the first Jurassic Park movie, you're probably familiar with the most photogenic form of resin: amber. Amber is fossilized tree resin and has been celebrated for its beauty for thousands of years. There's evidence that Stone Age people traded amber 3500 years ago!
While it can be pretty annoying when you get it all over your hands, resin does have a wide variety of uses, and if you ever find yourself lost in the woods, it can really come in handy. You can warm it up and use it to seal a wound, for example, since it already has antibacterial properties. You can also use it to make a torch!
By the way, if you ever get pine resin on something and want to get it off, spray a little WD-40 on it and let it sit for a couple of minutes. The WD-40 breaks down the resin and it will wash right off!
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends.
NEW: TRIVIA CHALLENGE
You've seen the posts. You've learned the facts. Now, it's time to prove you are a #BenInNature Mega Fan! The museum's education team has developed the #BenInNature Trivia Challenge to identify the most devoted fans out there! Everyone who successfully answers each trivia question correctly will be congratulated by having your own nature selfie posted to the museum's #BenInNature Mega Fan Photo Album on the official VMNH Facebook page! Learn more and download the trivia challenge today by visiting www.vmnh.net/research-collections/beninnature-trivia-challenge.
NATURE PHOTO IDENTIFICATIONS
If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!