Topic: Do Trees Talk to Each Other?
A controversial German forester says yes, and his ideas are shaking up the scientific world. I’m walking in the Eifel Mountains in western Germany, through cathedral-like groves of oak and beech, and there’s a strange unmoored feeling of entering a fairy tale. The trees have become vibrantly alive and charged with wonder. They’re communicating with one another, for starters. They’re involved in tremendous struggles and death-defying dramas. To reach enormousness, they depend on a complicated web of relationships, alliances and kinship networks. Wise old mother trees feed their saplings with liquid sugar and warn the neighbors when danger approaches. Reckless youngsters take foolhardy risks with leaf-shedding, light-chasing and excessive drinking, and usually pay with their lives. Crown princes wait for the old monarchs to fall, so they can take their place in the full glory of sunlight. It’s all happening in the ultra-slow motion that is tree time, so that what we see is a freeze-frame of the action. My guide here is a kind of tree whisperer. Peter Wohlleben, a German forester and author, has a rare understanding of the inner life of trees, and is able to describe it in accessible, evocative language. He stands very tall and straight, like the trees he most admires, and on this cold, clear morning, the blue of his eyes precisely matches the blue of the sky. Wohlleben has devoted his life to the study and care of trees. He manages this forest as a nature reserve, and lives with his wife, Miriam, in a rustic cabin near the remote village of Hümmel.
Topic Discussed: Do Trees Talk to Each Other?