The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicatediscoveries from a Secret World - Peter Wohlleben

Staff Pick

For decades, Peter Wohlleben knew trees primarily as potential lumber. When he started to see them for something more than their commercial value—what he learned astonished him. In The Hidden Life of Trees (Greystone, $24.95), the forestry-commissioner-turned-environmentalist reports that “trees experience pain and have memories,” that they keep time, defend themselves from predators and summon defenders, and that “tree parents live together with their children” and other individuals of their species in mutually-supporting communities. If all this makes plants sound like animals, well, the evidence certainly points that way. Admittedly not afraid to blur these categories, Wohlleben speaks of the trees’ senses of taste and smell, the pain that can cause them to “scream” (such sounds have been measured), and their ability to speak to one another through roots that “crackle.” Usually extending “more than twice the spread of the crown,” tree roots strongly resemble a nervous system—and for good reason. Calling the roots the “brain” of the tree, Wohlleben shows how they regulate the plant’s growth, water use, and sensitivity to light and, perhaps most important, how they communicate with the roots of other trees in a magnificent “wood wide web.” These connections allow trees to alert each other to threats and mobilize the stronger members of the group to support those suffering injury or illness--often enabling weakened trees to survive when they probably wouldn’t on their own (which suggests that a tree can die of loneliness). And there’s much more. Wohlleben explains how trees age and die, why some can live thousands of years, how they can calm wind, why they don’t survive when kept in containers indoors—there’s something amazing on every page of this thoroughly delightful book.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate--Discoveries from a Secret World By Peter Wohlleben, Tim Flannery (Foreword by), Jane Billinghurst (Translator) Cover Image
By Peter Wohlleben, Tim Flannery (Foreword by), Jane Billinghurst (Translator)
ISBN: 9781771642484
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Greystone Books - September 13th, 2016