Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax depicts a world without trees. The smogulous smog makes the air difficult to breathe. Through all this, the book is teaching young children the value of trees. We all know the importance of them. In fact, we are taught these lessons at such young ages that we only remember them as utter truths. We need trees. After all, trees produce oxygen, and we need oxygen.
Trees are excellent contributors to the environment because each individual leaf is producing oxygen. Also, trees use carbon dioxide as part of the process to create oxygen. Even though all trees produce oxygen as a part of photosynthesis, some trees are more efficient than other trees.
Botanists measure the emissions of trees. Generally speaking, trees with larger leaf mass (or Leaf Area Index) produce more oxygen. Therefore, trees with sparse or small leaves will produce less oxygen than trees with large leaves and large canopies.
Which Trees Produce the Least Amount of Oxygen?
Before we dive into the best oxygen producers on the plant, let’s cover the trees that are the worst producers of oxygen. It may seem obvious, but the trees producing the least oxygen are pine trees.
Despite most pines being evergreens, their small needles are not top producers of oxygen. Certainly, if we depended on pines alone, our world would struggle to survive.
These pines still hold many benefits for us. They are producers of oxygen, regardless of the amount. When winter arrives and the deciduous trees shed their leaves, the pines are still producing the same amount of oxygen. Furthermore, they provide year-round shelter to many animals and wind breaks for man-made structures.
What Trees are Average Producers of Oxygen?
Botanists rank trees as low, intermediate, and high for oxygen release. The two species that represent the intermediate producers are oaks and aspens.
Both genera spread large canopies with relatively large leaves. However, they are deciduous and lose their leaves throughout winter.
However, while these are large trees, their LAI is much lower than those trees you will find in the top performing canopy.
Both trees provide ample shelters to animals. Additionally, we use oaks and aspens in many applications. Traditionally, you will see them standing alone in a yard because of their wide branches.
What Trees Produce the Most Oxygen?
Out of all the trees in the world, botanists classify five genera as the best oxygen producers. These trees are both conifers and deciduous. Furthermore, some are evergreen, and some are not.
The top five are:
Below, we will cover three top performers in greater detail.
1. Maple Trees
Maple trees are an excellent producer of oxygen in the tree kingdom. In fact, the oxygen emissions from a silver maple are enough to support two people per day. Additionally, the silver maple consumes a tenth of a pound of carbon dioxide a day.
The maple tree grows large, flat leaves. Furthermore, the canopy of the maple tree is expansive and full. However, the maple tree is deciduous and will lose its leaves for the winter. With 12 species in North America and over 125 species in the world, the maple tree is filling our world with oxygen.
By far, the silver maple is the leader. Also, it consumes water and carbon dioxide at significant rates to support the environment.
2. Spruce Trees
While it may be surprising, the spruce tree is a super producer of oxygen. These prickly trees gain extra producing days thanks to their evergreen quality. As mentioned above, traditionally needles are not ideal for oxygen production. However, the 40 spruce species break this mantra.
A significant factor in a spruce’s success is the number of days in the year where a tree can perform photosynthesis. Compared to the deciduous trees mentioned on this list, the spruce tree gains about 80 more days on average per year.
Despite the small, sharp needles, the spruce tree produces over 50% more oxygen than a beech tree. However, production will slow down significantly in the winter. The cold is a major deterrent for oxygen production.
3. Beech Trees
Beech trees are another deciduous genus top producer. Even though the beech leaves are smaller than the maple leaves, they still consume significant amounts of carbon dioxide. Notably, a beech tree consumes over 5 pounds of carbon dioxide in one hour. Comparing to the maple mentioned above, the beech tree consumes the same amount of carbon dioxide in 11 hours that the silver maple does in one year.
Beech trees grow large canopies as well but show open air in the canopy. However, with far-reaching branches covered in leaves, the LAI is still very high. The leaves are smaller than maple leaves and oval-shaped. Overall, there are 13 species in North America supporting the environment.
Processing this carbon dioxide, the beech tree releases almost 4 pounds of oxygen in one hour. This amount of oxygen can support up to 10 people a day.