The Hidden Life of Trees

The Hidden Life of Trees

What They Feel, How They Communicate : Discoveries From A Secret World

Book - 2016
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A forester's fascinating stories, supported by the latest scientific research, reveal the extraordinary world of forests and illustrate how trees communicate and care for each other.
Publisher: Vancouver, BC, Canada : David Suzuki Institute : Greystone Books Ltd, [2016]
ISBN: 9781771642484
Branch Call Number: 582.16 W84g1
Characteristics: xv, 272 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm


From Library Staff

A very interesting and informative book that made me think about trees in a different way (not the first one to do so, but was a good book).

Wohllebenm, a worker with the German Forestry Commission, presents his findings on how trees interact and communicate with each other. Sound vibrations, scents, and the “wood-wide-web” are cited as prime modes of communication.

Wohllebenm, a worker with the German Forestry Commission, presents his findings on how trees interact and communicate with each other. Sound vibrations, scents, and the “wood-wide-web” are cited as prime modes of communication.

From the critics

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Aug 29, 2020

Narrative style scientific information all about trees (including species, how/where they grow, what helps/harms them). Translated from German, author‘s humour and passion still evident. Book itself beautiful hardcover, good font and paper.

Aug 28, 2020

Loved this book, but then I love trees. Easy to read with lots of information.

May 20, 2020

An interesting concept and analogy to the human life cycle and emotions, but got a bit too detailed and pedantic for me.

LPL_ShirleyB Apr 30, 2020

While grounded in the author’s German forest, everyone who aspires to become more familiar with local natural habitats will benefit reading this accessible science writing. And gain a wider perspective beyond our human-centric view of the Earth—to think of ecological interdependence in centuries-long-lived tree time.

Even though anthropomorphizing appears throughout, it’s quite appropriate to illuminate our understanding and reconnect us to this hugely important realm of our planet! Fascinating information, based on scientific research, reveals trees are social and much like ants & bees, they nurture their family members. Trees can even count, learn and remember.

Selected quotes:
“There are more life forms in a handful of forest soil than there are people on the planet. A mere teaspoonful contains many miles of fungal filaments. All these work the soil, transform it, and make it so valuable for the trees.”

“One of the oldest trees on Earth, a spruce in Sweden, is more than 9,500 years old. That’s 115 times longer than the average human lifetime.”

“In the case of trees, being old doesn't mean being weak, bowed, and fragile. Quite the opposite, it means being full of energy and highly productive. This means elders are markedly more productive than young whippersnappers, and when it comes to climate change, they are important allies for human beings.”

Mar 09, 2020

Another tale of what happens when you put a dollar sign on nature. Ignore Mother Nature at your own peril.

Jan 16, 2020

Groundbreaking works often receive a polarized response, as here. Though if you are ready for it, the author's observations are stunning.

Dec 06, 2019

Author humanizes trees. As if humans are the center of the universe. Takes tiny pieces of a fascinating subject and makes no real sense of it. Not worth reading.

Nov 17, 2019

Interesting, but a lot of junk science in it.

Sep 24, 2019

What a wonderful book. Loved every page of it.

Jul 27, 2019

Tells an easy to read story based on scientific studies and years of observation about the lives and interdependence of trees. Fascinating read of the real ways they communicate and support each other through their physical structures and the ecosystem around them. Wasn't sure what I was getting in this book but pleasantly surprised. Recommended

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Dec 06, 2019

From Ch 8 Tree School, p. 44, 45
...In the years to come, the spruce will try to repair the wound, but the tear keeps reopening. From some distance away, you can see a black channel streaked with pitch that bears witness to this painful process.
And with that, we have arrived at the heart of tree school. Unfortunately, this is a place where a certain amount of physical punishment is still the order of the day, for Nature is a strict teacher. If a tree does not pay attention and do what it's told, it will suffer...From then on, it will do a better job of rationing water instead of pumping whatever is available out of the ground as soon as spring hits without giving a second thought to waste. The tree takes the lesson to heart, and from then on it will stick with this new, thrifty behavior, even when the ground has plenty of moisture-after all, you never know!

Jul 18, 2017

Whether they are thick or thin, all members of the same species are using light to produce the same amount of sugar per leaf. This equalization is taking place underground through the roots. There's obviously a lively exchange going on down there. Whoever has an abundance of sugar hands some over; whoever is running short gets help. Once again, fungi are involved. Their enormous networks act as gigantic redistribution mechanisms. It's a bit like the way social security systems operate to ensure individual members of society don't fall too far behind. p.15-6


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Feb 23, 2017

I had to wait for a long time for this book, so I felt a little compelled to read the whole thing. I didn't though; certainly no reflection on its value, but rather on my interest in the subject. It was written by a man who obviously knows a great deal and cares deeply about trees and forests. He delivered information in an anthropomorphic manner, talking about trees taking care of their offspring, warning other trees about predators, being lonely if they are the only one of their kind, etc. The approach was very charming and I was amazed at their communication with each other and social interdependency. Nevertheless, I gave myself permission to close the book about half way through. Maybe because the idea that trees are living beings, sentient in their own way, was not alien to me in the first place. Maybe because there are a number of other books on my shelf that I am eager to get into.

So, I did go back and finish it. My ultimate assessment is that there is much scientific information about trees -- too much for me to remember. What I took away is the trees are not that different from animals (and humans).

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