Trees communicate underground, and it could save their lives

Source: Treesource

Network of mycelium deep within the soil, “pipelines through which signals and nutrients travel between trees.” Photo: Alice Harrington

Think back to a time when you were deep in the forest, surrounded by silence. The tranquility. The pop of a twig underfoot. The rustle of leaves. The sound of your own heartbeat.

Little did you know that just beneath your feet, the trees were chattering away. Long conversations, the sort that give meaning and sustenance to life.

We know that trees can talk because of a remarkable Canadian scientist named Suzanne Simard. Over the past 30-plus years, she has discovered and then studied the vast, and complex, communications network that runs underground between trees.

Her story is a fascinating 18-minute Ted Talk, “How trees talk to each other,” and we’ve included the link here.

Simard’s work is particularly relevant, given recent national and international events, because she believes this underground web of communication currents may help forests survive – or at least adapt to – climate change.

“You see,” she says, “underground there is this other world, a world of infinite biological pathways that connect trees and allow them to communicate and allow the forest to behave as though it’s a single organism.”

“Forests aren’t simply collections of trees,” she says. “They’re complex systems with hubs and networks that overlap and connect trees and allow them to communicate, and they provide avenues for feedbacks and adaptation, and this makes the forest resilient.”

Simard offers four solutions that she’s certain would save North America’s forests as the climate warms – and the carbon they store and share over this underground network could even be part of the solution.

Listen and learn from this remarkable ecologist. It’s the best 18 minutes you’ll spend all day.