The whispering woods!

Apr 20, 2016

Talking trees? It’s well known that plants communicate on some level like all living beings, but science has uncovered what is now called the Mycorrhizal Network and the concept of an underground super highway is becoming part of mainstream science.

Hidden beneath the soil is a labyrinth of fungal connections between tree and plant roots that scientists have dubbed the Wood-Wide Web.

These incredibly intricate connections are made by the filaments of fungi that grow in and around plant roots and produce many of the forest mushrooms we know and love.

The bond between trees and all living plants are fascinating and extraordinarily intimate, so much so that it becomes impossible to view any tree or plant as a singular or independent individual, but rather an interdependent and inter-connected being. 

Forest trees and their root fungi system function like a well established cooperative, sharing resources which seem very human-like in many ways and even egalitarian in nature. 

It’s mutually advantageous for the Mycorrhizal fungi to partner with plant roots as both benefit from this positive and nurturing relationship.

The fungus permeates the plants’ roots but it does not attack.  On the contrary, the plant makes and delivers food to the fungus and in return the fungus dramatically increases the plants ability to absorb water and nutrients from the soil.

The Mycorrhizal fungal networks are extraordinarily complex and allow trees from different species to communicate.  The fungi are the conduit for communication and even the sharing of resources such as warnings of immanent attacks by pathogens or insects and thereby can send food or essential nutrients to trees under threat or in poor health from the same or different species. The fungi also transmit toxins as warnings to neighbouring plants who are competing for resources. 

Mother Trees

It also appears that “Mother Trees” are the communication hub and act altruistically and even logically by transferring their carbon to other family members and their offspring to maintain the health of the forest.

The “Mother Trees” serve to "feed" the younger ones, and without them, most of the seedlings would not survive. Recent research has shown that without “Mother Trees” regeneration of forests would fail.

When a “Mother Tree” is felled, the survival rate of seedlings is dramatically reduced and as the tree dies it seems ‘she’ delivers her resources to neighbouring species - feeding them and contributing to the overall biodiversity, health and resilience of the forest ecosystem.

Trees for our Earth

Trees are a vital part of our planet’s ecosystem. We all rely on trees and their resources such as oxygen, fruits, wood, water, medicines and soil nutrients.  Trees are critical for the health of the planet and they are often taken for granted.

Deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels have caused an increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases which has contributed to what we know as global warming.  Trees however, absorb and store CO2 from the atmosphere, forests form “carbon sinks” trapping tones of carbon dioxide and protecting us from the dramatic effects of climate change. 

Forests and trees provide vital habitats for the majority of the world’s plant and animal species.  Rainforests – just one type of forest – cover less than 2% of the Earth’s total surface area and yet are home to 50% of the Earth’s plants and animals. Deforestation is threatening the habitats of the millions of species that rely on forests to survive.

Forests are homes to a huge number of plant species, many of which are unknown or not thoroughly studied. Forests are critically important medicines and botanical knowledge.

Research has shown that we are losing 10mil trees world wide every year, that’s 1.4 trees per person every single year.

Forests cover less than 7% of the earth's surface but produce 20% of all the oxygen in the world. 

We need trees!

Signup for blog updates

Get a nudge every time we post a blog.

Share this post