Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest
by Suzanne Simard
A family's dog fall into an outhouse on a camping opened up a new world to a young girl - fungi, mineral-colored soil, humus, insects, worms, and more. The young girl grew up to become a forest ecologist and educator. Suzanne Simard’s look into the communicative world beneath our feet highlights nature’s resilience and its enormous capacity to heal.
Valerie Rogotzke, Master Gardener
“This is not a book about how we can save the trees. This is a book about how trees might save us.”
A family's dog falls into the outhouse on a camping trip in a Canadian forest. Uncles, aunts, grandparents, and parents all begin to dig out the poor creature, clearing away leaves from the forest floor, ripping up several feet of tree roots, and overturning several feet of earth. What a young girl sees, though, is not just the tree roots or the dirt itself, but a whole world under the ground: fungi, mineral-colored soil, humus, insects, worms, and more.
That young girl grew up to become the forest ecologist and educator Suzanne Simard, a woman whose academic research would lead her back to the world beneath our feet. She began studying the fungal networks of mycelia and the ways that trees communicate with one another through root systems, and discovered that the oldest and most established trees—what she calls mother trees—direct the sharing of resources amongst all the flora of the forest.
Simard’s look into the communicative world beneath our feet highlights nature’s resilience and its enormous capacity to heal. Her work appeals to gardeners, naturalists, and scientists alike. For more, her 2016 TED Talk educates on mycelia and mother tree communication, culminating in her advice for all to get out into local forests, to save old growth forests, for loggers to save the mother trees when logging occurs, and for logging companies to regenerate our forests wisely after logging. Simard’s book Finding the Mother Tree goes further still. This is not a dry or stuffy read, but an adventure story. Simard shares her fascinating field research in clear prose, telling stories about her sometimes-eccentric Canadian family of loggers and campers. Readers end with a deeper knowledge of how the natural world works and deeper appreciation for our human responsibility in protecting it.
Simard, Suzanne. Finding The Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest.
New York, NY: Knopf Publishing, 2021.
“How Trees Talk To Each Other,” TED. 2016
Photo credit: book jacket