This tiny video sums up recent research into the altruistic way of trees. They help and protect one another. Their hidden underground networks, referred to among scientists as the World Wood Web, secretly communicate and nurture root and branch.

Richard Powers’ The Overstory transforms this amazing new science of trees into a novel rich with poetic description…

The things she catches Douglas-firs doing, over the course of these years, fill [the researcher] with joy. When the lateral roots of two Douglas-firs run into each other underground, they fuse. Through those self-grafted knots, the two trees join their vascular systems together and become one. Networked together underground by countless thousands of miles of living fungal threads, her trees feed and heal each other, keep their young and sick alive, pool their resources and metabolites into community chests…

There are no individuals. There aren’t even separate species. Everything in the forest is the forest. Competition is not separable from endless flavors of cooperation. Trees fight no more than do the leaves on a single tree.

In my tree filled park in the middle of New York City, my daily walks are now like walks into a new country, a community of trees above and underground, helping one another survive, grow and reach for the skies.

Sally Schneider



Thanks David!

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4 replies on “The Social Network of Trees

  1. Thanks for this…just heard a review of this book today on NPR and decided to buy it for Keith, who has been reading The Hidden Life of Trees again. I think he’ll love this one.

  2. Another wonderful book about human and plant interaction from a scientific-poetic-First Nations point of view is Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

  3. That is GREAT, Anthony. Thank you. I often wonder what the big old trees in the park have witnessed in their long lives. “Witness trees”, even if not on a battlefield.

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