How Trees Talk to One Another
Karna Berg, Master Gardener
Have you ever walked in the woods and thought there was someone there, someone talking? Well, if you have, you were right. It was the trees talking to one another.
Oak trees are the perfect example. My back yard has a small, wooded area of mostly oak trees. I now feel them talking to each other. Or are they talking to me? Are they saying they need more water? Would like a sunny day? Just what are they saying?
As we all know, our trees are under attack from pollution, drought, pests, and disease. And while trees cannot just move to a more hospitable spot, they can help one another deal with all the stresses on them. Scientists have discovered that trees, and specifically oaks, have developed a root system, or network, through which they communicate. That root system is populated by fungus that aids them in this process. Let’s say a pest is moving into the neighborhood. As we know, they move in slowly, often tracked by tree specialists providing warnings to the public on what to be on the lookout for. Well, the trees are tracking the pests as well. And as the pests land on their branches, they signal ahead through the network that their neighbor trees should be prepared. Oaks and other trees will then produce chemicals and enzymes that help to ward off the pests. It sounds impossible, right? But it is true. Some scientists now even believe that trees also communicate through their leaves.
If this is as fascinating to you as it is to me, you can read more about it in some of the books I relied on here. They include: “The Life & Love of Trees,” Lewis Blackwell; “The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they Communicate,” Peter Wohllenben; and “Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest,” Suzanne Simard. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.
Photo credits: Julie Harris (1), seeing-nature.de(2)