Trees talk to each other through their own social networks

 

Move aside Facebook – there’s a new social media in town, and it doesn’t involve any technology at all.

Research has shown that trees and other plants form a communication highway – or social network – through fungi that inhabit the root zones (or ‘rhizospheres’) of the plants.

The fungal threads – known as mycelium – make up a superhighway of links between various plants, sharing information and nutrients in mutually beneficial relationships. While plants and trees provide the fungi with carbs (hopefully they’re not on the Atkins diet!), they return the favour by aiding water retention, cycling nutrients out of the soil, and priming the immune system against potential future threats.

Trees in a forest often work together to support each other, sending nutrients to those who need it most, or sharing information about threats.

Not only that, trees in particular communicate far more and over far greater distances than first thought. In fact, trees in a forest often work together to support each other, sending nutrients to those who need it most, or sharing information about threats. Research by ecologist Suzanne Simard found that relationships between trees were significant and complex, often spanning various species, ages, and needs. It was also discovered that mother trees will nurse their young, often sending their wisdom to other trees when dying or being felled.

Such a complex and wide-reaching system has enabled many forests to become much more resilient, allowing for the overall benefit of the forest as a whole. Long gone is the idea of ‘every tree for themselves’!

Find out more…

If you want to find out more about this topic, check out:

  • Peter Wohlleben’s book ‘The Hidden Life of Trees
  • Suzanne Simard’s awesome Ted Talk on the subject
  • this BBC article.