Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering How the Forest Is Wired for Intelligence and Healing

Suzanne Simard. Knopf, $27.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525656-09-8
Forest ecology professor Simard artfully blends science with memoir in her eye-opening debut on the “startling secrets” of trees. Simard explains that trees are “linked by a system of underground channels” that create a “forest society,” and among the mind-blowing discoveries she’s made is that older trees are able to identify which saplings they’re related to, and that they nurture younger trees. These conclusions stem from her work on “mycorrhizal networks,” or fungal threads that grow between cells of plant roots, and a “Mother Tree” that uses such a system to transfer nutrients to kin saplings. These revelations, she argues, make for more than just a series of oddities: it should be motivation to reform forest management in a way that benefits humans as well as trees. She explains the resistance her theories encountered after her initial article on tree intelligence made her a minor scientific celebrity, and grounds her own journey of scientific discovery in seminal life events: after discovering in the lab that birch and fir trees communicate, for example, she received a call that a sibling she’d been estranged from had died: “The funeral was held in agonizing cold. The aspens were bare, the firs nestled beneath their dendritic crowns drooping in snow.” As moving as it is educational, this groundbreaking work entrances. (May)
Reviewed on : 02/19/2021
Release date: 05/04/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-0-7352-3775-9
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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