Energy Positive/Negative Terminology Help

Hey all, I have a question about when Ryan talks about a tree that is “energy positive” or “energy negative,” and am having a difficult time understanding this concept. Which side is positive or negative?

I’m wondering if it might be easier for me to think of it in terms of kinetic or potential energy. Kinetic meaning when the energy of an object in motion versus the potential energy of an object at rest. A tree growing is using kinetic energy while a tree in dormancy is in potential energy. Using this language, which is energy positive and which is negative?


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Energy positive would be any time a tree has reaccumulated the resources it has spent to produce new flushes of growth. Example being once new spring growth has hardened off. Energy negative is the time when the tree is spending its stored resources, example being when the tree begins to push new growth in spring.

Using the terminology you suggested energy negative could be considered kinetic and engery positive could be consider potential. However I want to clarify that energy positive doesn’t mean dormant, rather it’s referring to the point when a tree has reaccumulated resources spent durning a period of growth.


Thanks! This is very helpful! And thanks for the clarification about positive versus dormancy.

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It’s not actually when the tree has reaccumulated resources. It’s when the tree is able to start reaccumulating and stop spending stored resources.


Perfect comparison, the icing being the last sentence of the second paragraph.

I think if it helps you to use those terms, then by all means do so. However, I would use the terms kinetic +, and kinetic - because the movement is either away (-), or towards (+). Potential would be in between those, or dormancy. When the tree is trying to send out leaves, or recover from something, it is using (away, or negative) the energy reserves (potential), so it is called energy negative. There is always a flow of energy going on, unless the tree is dead or dormant. Water and nutrients flow from the roots to the leaves, and the leaves then use those and the sunlight to create sugars and starches to flow back down to the roots. When the leaves have opened up and they are being very efficient, and sending BACK more goodies (energy) than they are using, this is energy positive. When I get enough money coming in to pay all my bills, and still have enough left over to save some (or buy a new tree!), then I am in energy positive.

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