Friday, September 16, 2016

Tree Talk

What do trees think?
Research by Professor Massimo Maffei at the University of Turin shows trees can distinguish the roots of their own species from other plants, and even pick out their own relations from other trees. Some are so tightly connected at the roots that they even die together, like a devoted married couple.

Diseased or hungry individuals can be identified, supported and nourished until they recover.

When the thick silver-grey beeches in my forest behave like this, they remind me of a herd of elephants. Like the herd, they look after their own, helping the sick and the weak back onto their feet.

And as those mossy wooden 'stones' revealed, they are even reluctant, like elephants, to abandon their dead. Of course, this cannot be done for every stump. Most rot and disappear within a couple of hundred years — which is not very long for a tree. But a few are maintained on life support for centuries. It appears to be the closeness of connection, or even affection, that determines how helpful the other trees will be.
Or maybe they just grow on each other...

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