Do you talk to the trees?

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 25, 2018

By Mark Martin

City of Salisbury

As an arborist, owner of a tree farm and a self-proclaimed tree hugger, I often talk to the trees. I feel at home in the forest and have often wondered, do trees talk to each other?

When I walk in the woods or in a nature park, I feel relaxed. I feel a sense of being refreshed and calm.

There is something to be said for the healing power of Mother Nature. Is there something else going on that humans do not perceive? Is the forest communicating on a secret, silent level we don’t hear?

Well there has been some scientific investigation that says yes, there is a lot of “talk” going on between trees. The most compelling evidence is a TED Talk by Dr. Suzanne Simard. Simard has done some really great research on how trees talk to each other and has proven that through their root systems trees can share nutrients, carbon and hormones with each other.

Trees are even able to discriminate between their own species and other species of trees. So what does this mean? Do older trees (mother trees) talk to their young? Do they help their young succeed? Is there a network of communication throughout the forest that goes unheard?

The answer is yes again, and it goes even deeper than that. Simard indicates that fungus has a very important role in communication in the forest, providing an enhanced role with their mycelium root system that spreads even further along the forest floor.

This evidence of how trees talk to each other could change the way trees are farmed, the type of trees we plant and how we, as humans, look at and listen to trees.

The next time you take a walk in the forest, you may have a different outlook on your surroundings. If you listen closely, you may just hear a tree talk, maybe the whole forest. Makes you wonder what the birds are saying.

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