Thursday, February 15, 2018

Let us all praise trees

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate: Discoveries from a Secret World ~ by Peter Wohlleben, 2015, biology, 9/10
"And what if you cut a tree down?  Is it then dead?  What about the centuries-old stump I introduced you to at the beginning of this book that is still alive today, thanks to its comrades?  Is that a tree?  And, if it isn't, then what is it?  It gets even more complicated when a new trunk grows out of an old stump.  In many woods, this happens all the time" (p. 80).
What a fascinating book!  I could imagine a forest of trees "leaning" on one another, "talking" to each other via their roots, and sending out "scent" signals to warn other trees of dangers such as insects nibbling on leaves or beetles boring into their trunks.

Here's the author with a tree circled by moss around the bottom.  This photo is from an article in the New York Times about this book and the social network of trees.

Wohlleben delved into the way trees network.  Not only do trees communicate through their root system, but they also use scent through the air and the very fungi that grow on their roots. This illustration is from an article about fungal networks, if you're curious.

Neighboring trees, as in this illustration from the same article, are able to network.  It looks like some of the smaller trees may still be under their "mother" tree, unable to grow tall until the big tree dies.  And that may not happen for a hundred years.  Or more.

Can you tell I love trees?  Here are a few posts I've written about trees on my various blogs over the years:
Would you call those last two "dying into tree-ness"?  I'm so interested in trees that I even picked up this 1949 yearbook of trees from the free bin outside a big used bookstore.  I'm sure there's more up-to-date information out there, but I've enjoyed looking through this thick, heavy old book about the forestry ideas in vogue when I was a little girl in elementary school.

Trees: The Yearbook of Agriculture ~ by the United States Department of Agriculture, 1949
I thought it would be an antique, rare, hard to find.  Nope, I found all sorts of links to information about this book.  You can even look inside it here, and read it online for free.
I also post poetry about trees.  This e. e. cummings poem is an out-pouring of gratitude, which praises "the leaping greenly spirits of trees."

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any—lifted from the no
of all nothing—human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

Hear e. e. cummings (1894-1962) read this poem himself, thanks to YouTube.


Helen's Book Blog said...

I have heard such good things about this book, I'm glad you liked it. I haven't read it but did read his other book about animals and wasn't as impressed.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I saw that he had written a book about animals, but he's a FORESTER. He works with trees, not animals. That probably explains why this book is (or may be) more interesting. Then again, I've been interested in trees all my life, as you could see if you clicked on the link to read about my "Favorite trees" in the post above. I loved an oak tree when I was only two years old, climbed a plum tree to eat fruit warm from the sun when I was in elementary school, and have loved specific trees at just about all the places I've ever lived (except in Atlanta, where I was busy studying for my Master's degree and didn't have time to get acquainted with the trees).

Bonnie Jacobs said...

BrainPickings has an extensive review of this book:

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I sent the BrainPickings link to Helen, who wrote back: "I love the idea that trees communicate and live on, helping one another, through their root system. Much better that he love the trees than just grow them for the lumber industry."

Yeah, I'm glad he loves the trees. So do I, which is why this whole subject fascinates me.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Scientists Discover That Trees Have a Heartbeat