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... How is the new branch formation maintained symmetrical so the trees don't fall over?
Of course one might make a computer simulation of a tree... However, that doesn't really explain how a tree chooses to make a new branch. Attrition can be due to a lack of sunlight, although a tree still must maintain a certain amount of symmetry to remain upright (so all the north branches couldn't die (or south for Evan)).What about fluid flow and pressure? Either too little flow of fluid towards the leaves, or too high of pressure, and it would be a trigger to create a new branch. Likewise a lack of nutrient return from the leaves indicates a need for more branches and leaves.