Trees are mysterious and those that study them continue to make new discoveries every year. In recent years, scientists have learned more about the way trees communicate with each other. Two years ago, German forester Peter Wohlleben wrote a book called The Hidden of Life Trees. In this book, he refers to the ‘woodwide web’; the fungal network that trees use to talk to each other.
It makes for fascinating reading, but in the meantime, here are five incredible facts about trees you’ve probably never heard of:
Trees that grow slowly, grow stronger
There’s a good reason why trees take so long to grow. In fact, you’ll find that in forests, mother trees purposely block the light from reaching younger trees. This allows them to expend more energy developing their root system, which makes them sturdy and strong.
Trees don’t die when they’re felled
If the roots remain in the ground, the tree continues to live, sharing its nutrients and communicating with other trees. In his book, Wohlleben mentions a young spruce tree with new shoots that, when it was carbon dated, turned out to be almost 10 000 years old!
Trees are capable of learning
As a living organism, you would expect trees to adapt their behaviour based on their environment, but trees are capable of much more. For example, trees that grow in forests with plenty of nutrients and water will struggle to recover after experiencing a drought. Those that survive will have learnt a tough lesson change their root structure to be better prepared for the next catastrophe.
Trees co-operate with each other
Common advice for planting a new tree is to leave enough room so that it doesn’t have to compete with other trees and plants for nutrients. While some trees are competitive, many species are happy to work together for the benefit of everyone. Even when a tree dies, its roots will continue to send nutrients to the surrounding through the fungal network.
Trees prepare themselves for winter
When the leaves of a tree change colour, it’s because the tree is withdrawing chlorophyll from the leaves. What’s even more amazing is that these vibrant red, orange and yellow leaves send a clear signal to insects not to bother them. These colours are a sign of a healthy tree that will be able to defend itself when spring rolls around again.
Who knows what more we’ll learn about trees in the years to come. Far from being the silent sentinels that line our streets and live in our gardens, trees clearly have a lot to tell us. That’s why it’s so important to take proper care of your trees. With the help of experts in tree maintenance, your trees will live long, healthy and happy lives.