letter to the editor

Talking trees make good neighbors

Posted:  Tuesday, October 3, 2017 - 12:00pm

Dear Editor:

We know plants grow better when listening to music. We know that plants feel pain, yet they have no brain that interprets pain.  After 30 years of research, Canadian Suzanne Simard discovered that trees talk, even over long distances, and they do this without electronic devices or social media.

Mainers are surrounded by trees where homes are built and often stop their cars to help a stranger in a ditch or stuck in a rail in the middle of winter. Humans have kindness built into their systems, and so do trees.  Trees and other plants have underground connections, which humans do not.

Trees have a world of biological pathways that send messages allowing the forest to communicate as a single organism. They don’t need social media to feel, speak, or heal their neighbors. Trees use their roots and soil as the wiring system of the forest. In fact, pine seedling roots can transmit carbon to other pine seedling roots. Trees sense when their neighbor is in need and send their food to their neighbor to keep them alive. Humans instinctively do that in fires when hearing a baby crying. In they go with a wet cloth or nothing at all taking a risk, but still searching for the child to save. Humans are less likely to do that when the child is dying from hunger. They don’t see the hunger, or the emergency of the situation. They do not have an underground alarm root system.

It turns out the tree “wire” that transmitted conversation is named “fungus root.” Like all mothers in the world, mother trees recognize their own seedling child who she feeds through the root system. Clear-cutting weakens this system causing trees to scream for help to their neighbors. Fires also cause underground cries that humans do not hear or know they are killing tree babies. Trees, like us, are social creatures.

Trees are good neighbors with an essential role in our lives and a brain for communication in their root system that should not be destroyed or babies die.

Jarryl Larson