The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleben
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Peter Wohlleben

The Hidden Life of Trees

b7129997734
b7129997734has quoted3 years ago
fairy tales of trees with human faces, trees that can talk, and sometimes walk.
Ivan
Ivanhas quotedlast year
Life in the slow lane is clearly not always dull.
b7129997734
b7129997734has quoted3 years ago
fairy tales of trees with human faces, trees that can talk, and sometimes walk.
b5832205031
b5832205031has quoted9 months ago
The trees don’t want to take anything away from each other, and so they develop sturdy branches only at the outer edges of their crowns, that is to say, only in the direction of “non-friends.”
MM
MMhas quotedlast year
One of the oldest trees on Earth, a spruce in Sweden, is more than 9,500 years old
Fatiha Bmd
Fatiha Bmdhas quoted2 months ago
The electrical impulses that pass through the roots of trees, for example, move at the slow rate of one third of an inch per second.
Soliloquios Literarios
Soliloquios Literarioshas quoted2 months ago
Boar and deer are extremely partial to beechnuts and acorns, both of which help them put on a protective layer of fat for winter. They seek out these nuts because they contain up to 50 percent oil and starch—more than any other food. Often whole areas of forest are picked clean down to the last morsel in the fall so that, come spring, hardly any beech and oak seedlings sprout. And that’s why the trees agree in advance. If they don’t bloom every year, then the herbivores cannot count on them. The next generation is kept in check because over the winter the pregnant animals must endure a long stretch with little food, and many of them will not survive. When the beeches or oaks finally all bloom at the same time and set fruit, then it is not possible for the few herbivores left to demolish everything, so there are always enough undiscovered seeds left over to sprout.
Soliloquios Literarios
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In the normal course of events, such survival would not be possible, because without bark the tree cannot transport sugar from its leaves to its roots. As the roots starve, they shut down their pumping mechanisms, and because water no longer flows through the trunk up to the crown, the whole tree dries out. However, many of the trees I girdled continued to grow with more or less vigor. I know now that this was only possible with the help of intact neighboring trees. Thanks to the underground network, neighbors took over the disrupted task of provisioning the roots and thus made it possible for their buddies to survive. Some trees even managed to bridge the gap in their bark with new growth, and I’ll admit it: I am always a bit ashamed when I see what I wrought back then. Nevertheless, I have learned from this just how powerful a community of trees can be. “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” Trees could have come up with this old craftsperson’s saying. And because they know this intuitively, they do not hesitate to help each other out
Soliloquios Literarios
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Even strong trees get sick a lot over the course of their lives. When this happens, they depend on their weaker neighbors for support. If they are no longer there, then all it takes is what would once have been a harmless insect attack to seal the fate even of giants.
Soliloquios Literarios
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When trees grow together, nutrients and water can be optimally divided among them all so that each tree can grow into the best tree it can be. If you “help” individual trees by getting rid of their supposed competition, the remaining trees are bereft. They send messages out to their neighbors in vain, because nothing remains but stumps. Every tree now muddles along on its own, giving rise to great differences in productivity. Some individuals photosynthesize like mad until sugar positively bubbles along their trunk. As a result, they are fit and grow better, but they aren’t particularly long-lived. This is because a tree can be only as strong as the forest that surrounds it. And there are now a lot of losers in the forest. Weaker members, who would once have been supported by the stronger ones, suddenly fall behind. Whether the reason for their decline is their location and lack of nutrients, a passing malaise, or genetic makeup, they now fall prey to insects and fungi.
Soliloquios Literarios
Soliloquios Literarioshas quoted2 months ago
However, colleagues from Lübeck in northern Germany have discovered that a beech forest is more productive when the trees are packed together. A clear annual increase in biomass, above all wood, is proof of the health of the forest throng.15
Soliloquios Literarios
Soliloquios Literarioshas quoted2 months ago
And that’s what makes the research results so astounding. The rate of photosynthesis is the same for all the trees. The trees, it seems, are equalizing differences between the strong and the weak. Whether they are thick or thin, all members of the same species are using light to produce the same amount of sugar per leaf. This equalization is taking place underground through the roots. There’s obviously a lively exchange going on down there. Whoever has an abundance of sugar hands some over; whoever is running short gets help. Once again, fungi are involved. Their enormous networks act as gigantic redistribution mechanisms. It’s a bit like the way social security systems operate to ensure individual members of society don’t fall too far behind.14
Soliloquios Literarios
Soliloquios Literarioshas quoted2 months ago
Whenever the seedlings’ roots were exposed to a crackling at 220 hertz, they oriented their tips in that direction. That means the grasses were registering this frequency, so it makes sense to say they “heard” it.
Soliloquios Literarios
Soliloquios Literarioshas quoted2 months ago
What negative effects? Doesn’t it sound logical that a tree will grow better if bothersome competitors are removed so that there’s plenty of sunlight available for its crown and plenty of water for its roots? And for trees belonging to different species that is indeed the case. They really do struggle with each other for local resources. But it’s different for trees of the same species. I’ve already mentioned that beeches are capable of friendship and go so far as to feed each other. It is obviously not in a forest’s best interest to lose its weaker members. If that were to happen, it would leave gaps that would disrupt the forest’s sensitive microclimate with its dim light and high humidity. If it weren’t for the gap issue, every tree could develop freely and lead its own life. I say “could” because beeches, at least, seem to set a great deal of store by sharing resources.
Soliloquios Literarios
Soliloquios Literarioshas quoted2 months ago
Fruit trees, willows, and chestnuts use their olfactory missives to draw attention to themselves and invite passing bees to sate themselves. Sweet nectar, a sugar-rich liquid, is the reward the insects get in exchange for the incidental dusting they receive while they visit. The form and color of blossoms are signals, as well. They act somewhat like a billboard that stands out against the general green of the tree canopy and points the way to a snack.
Soliloquios Literarios
Soliloquios Literarioshas quoted2 months ago
These fungi operate like fiber-optic Internet cables. Their thin filaments penetrate the ground, weaving through it in almost unbelievable density. One teaspoon of forest soil contains many miles of these “hyphae.”8 Over centuries, a single fungus can cover many square miles and network an entire forest. The fungal connections transmit signals from one tree to the next, helping the trees exchange news about insects, drought, and other dangers. Science has adopted a term first coined by the journal Nature for Dr. Simard’s discovery of the “wood wide web” pervading our forests.
Soliloquios Literarios
Soliloquios Literarioshas quoted2 months ago
Thanks to selective breeding, our cultivated plants have, for the most part, lost their ability to communicate above or below ground—you could say they are deaf and dumb—and therefore they are easy prey for insect pests.12 That is one reason why modern agriculture uses so many pesticides. Perhaps farmers can learn from the forests and breed a little more wildness back into their grain and potatoes so that they’ll be more talkative in the future.
Soliloquios Literarios
Soliloquios Literarioshas quoted2 months ago
Trees can also mount their own defense. Oaks, for example, carry bitter, toxic tannins in their bark and leaves. These either kill chewing insects outright or at least affect the leaves’ taste to such an extent that instead of being deliciously crunchy, they become biliously bitter. Willows produce the defensive compound salicylic acid, which works in much the same way. But not on us. Salicylic acid is a precursor of aspirin, and tea made from willow bark can relieve headaches and bring down fevers
Soliloquios Literarios
Soliloquios Literarioshas quoted2 months ago
This ability to produce different compounds is another feature that helps trees fend off attack for a while. When it comes to some species of insects, trees can accurately identify which bad guys they are up against. The saliva of each species is different, and trees can match the saliva to the insect. Indeed, the match can be so precise that trees can release pheromones that summon specific beneficial predators. The beneficial predators help trees by eagerly devouring the insects that are bothering them. For example, elms and pines call on small parasitic wasps that lay their eggs inside leaf-eating caterpillars.5 As the wasp larvae develop, they devour the larger caterpillars bit by bit from the inside out. Not a nice way to die. The result, however, is that the trees are saved from bothersome pests and can keep growing with no further damage. The fact trees can recognize saliva is, incidentally, evidence for yet another skill they must have. For if they can identify saliva, they must also have a sense of taste.
Soliloquios Literarios
Soliloquios Literarioshas quoted2 months ago
Scientists believe pheromones in sweat are a decisive factor when we choose our partners—in other words, those with whom we wish to procreate. So it seems fair to say that we possess a secret language of scent, and trees have demonstrated that they do as well.
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