In this snippet from Out the Door! our heroine Aida learns that trees communicate with each other and that there’s something called the “wood wide web”!
“Are you one of those people who think plants feel things and like to listen to Mozart?”
He couldn’t tell if she was being snide. “Well, plants do have a kind of neurobiology, if that’s what you mean.”
“You’re saying they have brains?”
“No. But they do have capabilities that allow them to exhibit intelligence, learning and memory. Plants are known to possess a complex chemical vocabulary.”
“It’s already been shown how trees in a forest can organize themselves into networks by connecting their roots to exchange information. There’s even a paper I’ve read on it that refers to the ‘wood-wide web.’”
“That’s hilarious. You’re a real tree hugger for sure. The locals must really hate you. Wow, I wonder if I can use any of this in my book. I’m writing a section on aphrodisiacs and other enhancements.”
Well, it seems that trees do indeed have a social life! From both North America and Europe, there is some astounding research emerging — research that may make you change the way you think about a forest forever. Trees not only “talk” to each other, but do so often, and over large distances!
According to forest ranger Peter Wohlleben’s best seller ,“The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World,” trees are indeed social beings. According to Wohlleben, trees can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web.”
His research has been corroborated elsewhere. Suzanne Simard, a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia, has examined feedback and communication between plant and soil communities, and has tested theories about how trees communicate with other trees. She used radioactive carbon to measure the flow and sharing of carbon between individual trees and species.
Simard has helped identify “mother trees” — large trees that act as central hubs for a vast-below ground network.
So the next time you hike in Peninsula State Park, think about the interconnected universe beneath your feet — and that tree “intelligence” is now being recognized by scientists.