THE TALKING FOREST: HOW DO TREES TELL THE STORIES ?

THE HIDDEN LANGUAGE OF TREES

“When you know that trees experience pain and have memories and that tree parents live together with their children, then you can no longer just chop them down and disrupt their lives with larger machines.”

Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees

The mystical world of nature is teaching us, almost every day, that there are still many things we don’t know or we thought we know about the perfect ecosystem. Nevertheless, the beautiful flora around us, that is shaping itself and trying to adapt to the challenged human race, has more secrets than ever. If you look at the great network of the trees, around the globe, you will note that it has to be something there that is keeping all those individual tree units in the harmony. The language of trees that can hear only one who is silent and ready to hear and understand.  

Peter Wohlleben, the expert for forests, put his all knowledge and professional work in one of the most amazing books about nature “The Hidden Life of Trees”, presenting the trees almost like humans, portraying their emotions, behaviour and communication in the way that each of us could comprehend. This book is like the ticket into the mysterious universe of the tree souls. Once after you read it, you will start seeing forests like big families and you will act on their protection.

This book has an interesting concept and completely new perspective since this researcher has an opinion that trees have unique genetic structure and each of them is somehow designed in the own way. The humans are more genetic similar to each others than the trees, that even belong to the same specie. They develop authentic but they learn to communicate with each others very early, through the the olfactory, visual, and electrical signals:“When a caterpillar takes a hearty bite out of a leaf, the tissue around the site of the damage changes. In addition, the leaf tissue sends out electrical signals, just as human tissue does when it is hurt. However, the signal is not transmitted in milliseconds, as human signals are; instead, the plant signal travels at the slow speed of a third of an inch per minute.” 

Mr. Wohlleben, from Germany, is not the only one who is working in this field of spreading the forest wisdom. The Canadian, Suzanne Simard, is also doing her best in following the forest language and its symbolic. As a child, she was more than impressed by thick woods of British Columbia, decided to go into this sphere and do her scientific work and discoveries. According to her, forest is a cooperative system full of mother trees and their children. She did some studies about it and found out that the social ranking among tress is very similar to the human population. The older the tree, the highly linked it is with bigger root system. The deep root system is a good base for founding communication signals and using them around.

The next exciting part of this topics is underground network of fungi that is working in the favour of trees. What I am talking about ? Yes, fungi have some kind of symbiotic relationship with trees. Every tree has its own fungi network. It is easy to illustrate with each individual owning the cell phone and Internet. In other words, we have something like wood wide web or a mycorrhizal network. This system can have an impact on the survival, growth, health, and behaviour of the trees linked within it. The forest Internet is actually the perfect tool of nature to help woods to survive, sharing the news, resources or simply risks:”Trees produce food, in the form of glucose sugars, through photosynthesis. The plants share this glucose with the fungus. Meanwhile, the fungus finds and absorbs nutrients from the soil to give back to the tree. Most of these nutrients are phosphates and nitrates. This type of symbiosis is called mutualistic symbiosis. That is because both of the species benefit from it.

The explorers brought up the fact that old trees share the crucial nutrition with young plants that have no enough light. This is something like parent-child logic and support which is called sharing. Thats is how the trees survive the bad period and regenerate the forest. It is funny but there are also plants that do not follow the rules of generosity but the rules of egoism, like some specific type of orchids that live only on the costs of others without giving anything in return.

The forest web is also helping the woods to protect itself against the danger and potential enemies. When we think of diseases and insect attacks, the attacked tree can radiate the warning to the family tress and neighbours, so they can prepare better for defence. The fascinating thing is that the informed tree can modify its biochemical system and organise it against the threat. Especially sounds sad the information that dying tree passes its sources of  nitrogen and phosphorus to its neighbours, so they can have additional strength in the coming time. Isn’t that something like plant kind of compassion ? This is very important knowledge that must be shared with forest industry holders and logging business since they are those who usually work in wood harvesting. Those people need to know that only healthy forest has a future and this means keeping alive mother trees because they take care of their offsprings and cultivate the young plants. This also means that before one tree is harvested, it has to get enough time to realise its nutrients to the local trees and empower their presence.

The thought, about all those trees that communicate among each others through the wood wide web is such a marvellous thing and great step into the understanding of our ecosystem. It is not enough just to understand but also to undertake the all possible actions to protect the forests from illegal harvesting or logging. They are the lungs of our Planet, our future. The trees should be our friends and we need to accept the responsibility to take care of them and let them take care of the whole other creatures, allowing them to keep forest systems healthy. This is just the beginning of refreshing science that allows us to hear the language, we never know it really exists.

Save the trees.

2 thoughts on “THE TALKING FOREST: HOW DO TREES TELL THE STORIES ?

  1. What an amazing article, Sarah !

    I was aware of some of, but not all, the interesting and intriguing facts about trees and how they communicate. I definitely did not know that they imparted their nutrients to the contiguous trees before they passed away.

    This shows the love and compassion that trees are capable of, even at the time leaving. I wish humans exhibited the same noble traits.

    Thank you for the education and the passion, Sarah !

    Like

  2. Sarah’s informative and relative article reminded me of the evolution of progymnosperms, which emerged from smaller vascular plants, when marine plants began to be terrestrial, c. 500 million years ago.

    The environmental adaption of the first terrestrial plants triggered primitive symbiotic relationships with other organisms (e.g. fungi species, which emerged long before trees). The first progymnosperm was ‘Archaeopteris’. It was not unlike present-day conifers, but its stem was c. 50 metres in circumference. It reproduced via spores, as seeds of trees did not appear until much later.

    These initial trees spread during The Carboniferous Period: the best preserved fossil remains of an ancient forest are in China, with specimens of 12 metres in height and resembling palms; dated to c. 390 million years ago.

    Terrestrial plants emerged from marine algae, whose DNA influenced that of tree species (i.e. the ancient imprints continuing), and so present-day species of gymnosperm and angiosperm trees possess DNA imprints reaching back more than 1 billion years; this includes the beginning of photosynthesis via cyanobacteria in the oceans, c. 2 billion years ago.

    So, trees tell the story of much of the planet’s evolution…

    Like

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About Sarahowlgirl1982

I am a master of Political Sciences, with special focus on Security Studies, Islamic Counter Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I enjoy discovering and commenting things which are " in the air" but still not spoken.I also do like science writing and planing to move myself into the pure science journalism !