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Crown shyness or canopy disengagement is a phenomenon observed in some tree species in which the crowns of neighboring trees of similar height do not touch each other, but are separated by a gap. This forms a persistent and striking border around individual crowns that are visible from the ground. The phenomenon is most prevalent among trees of same species, but also occurs between trees of different species

The phenomenon of crown shyness has been discussed in scientific literature since the 1920s, but what causes it is not fully understood. One theory suggests that this empty space around the crown might be caused by breakage of
twigs and branches from violent collision that happens during storms and high winds. Experiments show that if trees with crown shyness are artificially prevented from swaying and colliding in the wind, they gradually fill in the
empty space in the canopy.

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Crown shyness in Dryobalanops aromatica (Kapur trees) in Forest Research Center - Kuala Lumpur. Photo credit

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