What is crown shyness?


“Crown shyness” is a real term that means the pattern a canopy of trees make against the sky.   They seem to avoid touching, which is responsible for the pattern.

One theory is this is due to branches rubbing against each other and then breaking off, leaving the jigsaw-puzzle like patterns.  Another theory is that the growing tips are sensitive to levels of light, and stop growing as they near the branch tips of other trees.

They’re better at maintaining good boundaries than humans are!

I never noticed tcrown shyness before, but now I’ll be looking for it whenever I walk in a forest or under a grove of tall trees.


Photos not taken by me.  Credit: unknown.

11 thoughts on “What is crown shyness?

  1. Fabulous photos of this phenomenon. 😉 I will stop to observe now too, looking for crown shyness… thank you for the post.

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  2. Isn’t nature just amazing! Like wise, I’ll be paying closer attention to the tree tops next time I am in the forest!! Thank you for sharing that very interesting phenomenon!

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  3. I have never seen this and I have looked up often in the woods. I think the issue might be that when everything is in bloom there are different heights to the trees so the leaves of the lower ones hid this phenom taking place in the higher ones. That being said, I will be sure to look more closely next time I’m in the woods.

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  4. They are light-sensitive (more light, more growth), but I’ve also seen naturally broken branches (promoted by winds). Both theories can be true. 🙂 There’s also the fact that branching follows certain rules that produce fractal patterns…

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