One of the nice things about settling down is the feeling that we’ve reduced our universe of possibilities, and so it’s easier to make plans.

Some people say that the ability to anticipate is what makes homo sapiens unique.

But a tree makes plans too, for how it is going to grow over the course of its life.

This growth plan is a genetic blueprint, a sort of architectural plan, for the tree’s eventual structure.

Of course, trees are dynamic and not static like buildings.

If one were to draw up actual architectural plans for a tree, like the French botanist Francis Hallé, the plans could only show you how the tree’s form develops over time, not its final form.

Dipterocarps are tall, big trees. They dominate the canopy of a forest. Underneath the canopy, in the layer called the understorey, it remains quiet and dark. There’s not a lot of sunlight, wind or rain, because the crowns and trunks of the massive dipterocarps form a barrier.

A young dipterocarp growing in this understorey has the benefit of a stable environment. So it can stick to its architectural plan.

But what happens when the environment changes? What if things don’t go according to plan?