Trees And Their Interactions With Other Trees

You could know the common and proper name of every tree in the world, and still not know a damn thing about trees. I personally believe that trees have a meta-physical method of communication that goes beyond anything we could ever comprehend, this post is about the physical methods trees use to communicate with each other.

I hope to do a series of posts about trees in the coming weeks, topics like the theory, propagation, planting, pruning, general maintenance and hopefully end it with the proper way to cut down a tree. I want to cover every aspect of proper tree management, especially the stuff that you would not normally find in a book. This is not meant in any way to be a “how to” article, but a general guide to the spiritual ways of planting and maintaining trees—Though I will include “physical” theory as it relates to the topic being discussed…

With all of the attention that is currently being paid to urban trees, I am finding it increasingly important to educate people on this kind of stuff. Recently a non-profit in my area has started planting trees all over Wilkinsburg, I believe 500 of them to be exact. The immediate benefits of this biologically diverse urban forest have been immense, I have done several double-takes lately in awe of some of the great trees they have planted… Now all I need them to do is start inspecting these trees for “issues” before they plant more…

The following points are just a small sampling of the methods trees use to communicate with each other, there are many more than this… This is just intended to be a starting point… Research is always required before planting a tree, don’t skip the basics.

The simplest and most common interaction is the transfer of pollen, pollen is a necessary requirement for sexual reproduction. Sexual evolution is a necessary part of our ecosystem, genes are mixed, and depending on the traits that remain dominant, the tree will adapt and prosper, or dwindle and die. When the gene mix results in an inferior tree, the tree will almost always die. Sometimes the gene mix will be superior to the original, and we now have a new cultivar.

In breeding programs these superior plants are often singled out and bread for the sole purpose of enhancing those traits, that is how we get our new cultivars… In a forest when a superior trait evolves in a seedling, that seedling can dominate and destroy the seedlings that lack the new trait. This is one of the ways plants eventually develop resistance to certain pests and diseases, just the natural selection of nature at work.

Trees mine minerals from deep in the Earth, in exchange they return starches and sugars in the form of leaf fall. People rarely realize this but a large part of a tree is actually located underground in the form of the root system, 40% to be specific. These roots can reach deep in the ground to access water and nutrients that never would have been biologically available if not for the roots, the tree is not only feeding itself, but feeding every tree and plant around it. Many trees absolutely require the readily available sugars to be present in the spring, maple trees are a perfect example—what do you think makes maple syrup so sweet and delicious?

Trees that have experienced any kind of trauma including insect and bacterial attack, will release a warning by exuding something that has a smell in order to warn other trees. Depending on the species of tree the scent can serve a number of purposes, from chemical warnings meant to warn the other trees in the immediate vicinity that something is wrong, to chemical calls to attract beneficial insects to help fight off an insect attack.

An injured pine tree will begin sending signals and can often show the first signs of infestation within 24 hours after the initial trauma is experienced, this is due to the extremely strong scent of pine sap… An evolution that is advancing as I type this… Boring insects commonly enters the tree through a fresh wound, those insects have evolved to be hyper-sensitive to the smell of the sap seeping from a fresh wound in whatever the target tree of that insect happens to be. Pruning a tree during the wrong life cycle of an insect can prove to be fatal, great care must be taken when determining the time of year you can prune a particular tree.

Trees respond to the sun, observe any houseplants ability to stretch towards the sun is evidence of that. Trees reflect light, this reflected light is called “albido”. All trees have an albido though it is different in every tree. Some trees like conifers absorb the warmth from the sun, overnight that heat is slowly released. Conifers can give off so much thermal energy during the night that they have the ability to melt snow, a characteristic that can benefit less cold hardy trees planted in close quarters with the pine tree. Trees with lighter leaves or bark tend to reflect energy from the sun, dark leaves and bark will absorb that energy. Trees with red or purple leaves absorb the highest amount of energy, this is because of the high levels of copper they contain, copper is an incredible thermal conductor.

Physically the simple act of pollen transfer is more than enough to convince most people that trees communicate with each other, I hope now you will realize that it is so much more than that. The idea that when a pine tree is attacked by a boring insect it has the ability to release sap… Sap that has a smell strong enough to warn the other trees to prepare for an imminent attack—How freaking cool is that…

Next time I will take this a step further — Trees and their interactions with people perhaps…

to hug a tree is to hug god – chriscondello

Originally posted November 25, 2012

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15 thoughts on “Trees And Their Interactions With Other Trees

  1. wow, how did i miss this one at the time? another great post…i love learning from trees, my favourite place that isn’t by a beach is the lumsdale project in derbyshire, england. it’s an industrial heritage site, where a mill was, the mill pond at the top of a tall drop with wheels and flushing for the fabric/mill/dyeing work done there, different stages as you go down the slope. all the human stuff is long disused, but the trees range from huge survivors to tiny saplings shooting out of what looks like bare rock by the side of the waterfalls, all holding the steep sides together, roots showing, crazy reaching for the light in places, but so, so beautiful, and the sound of the water tumbling down, and (becos i sit still and quiet!) the birds singing and darting in and out of nests in the ivy and ferns…my husband loved yew trees, really ancient ones can be found in churchyards in britain cos the christians built over the pagan/druid groves…more happy memories, thank you!


  2. What a great, great post. Trees, like so many precious things, are all around us and so oftentimes ignored and taken for granted. I love thinking about trees communicating with each other and us, and interacting with the world, instead of just being passive things.


  3. julespaige says:

    You reminded me of an Science fiction story I read where the Trees were teaching the art of ‘Looming’ – getting bigger and smaller on the approach of things that see. Alas one poor fellow didn’t get it quite right – that’s when the car crashed.

    I like trees.


  4. Reblogged this on nobodysreadingme and commented:
    I just like this. So there.


  5. petrujviljoen says:

    cecaroliena, I’m sure you meant the tree thrived on Bach. Has anybody read Supernature by Lyall Watson? He published back in the 1970s. Pity the Native Americans haven’t (or maybe they did and I didn’t get to read it), published their indigenous knowledge about this topic. When I used to live in the city I hugged trees for comfort. Now that I’m closer to nature, living among trees (and industrial pine plantations) I don’t seem to need to so often. Just sit under them and stare at everything around me.


  6. […] Trees And Their Interactions With Other Trees. […]


  7. tfaswift says:

    I totally believe that plants communicate. I read somewhere (and I will try to find where I read it because I read about a million books on the go plus researching stuff online) but anyway, I read about this ex-CIA guy who attached his lie-detector thing to one of his house plants. He did it to measure the electrical pulses or whatever that signify what/if the plant is *feeling* anything (i.e. emotions). He then watered the plant and saw from the machine thing that it was feeling calm and soothed. Later on he was just looking at the plant (not doing anything) and he just *thought* (this is sad, but he didn’t actually do it) he just *thought* about using a lighter to burn one of the leaves on the plant. The second he thought about it, the machine thing spiked wildly and he knew that the plant had “read his mind” or somehow knew what he was thinking. I read that and it just blew my mind. And it made me feel really sorry for plants too. He didn’t burn the plant but he wrote about it, informed the CIA etc. After that I felt really bad just picking my little home-grown lettuces and I was apologising to them and everything.


  8. kostarchild says:

    Old acorn trees are quiet friends. Wild birds are noisy friends to me. I try to communicate with them.

    Some people actually can communicate with trees, plants, and animals telepathically. Telepathy is higher form of communication that is shared by many life forms in universe. Empathy is simplified version of telepathy.

    Everything is connected? More accurate phrase is we are all cocreators of the reality or universe we live in. Animated trees become sentient beings when humans start opening up awareness.

    I see almost everyday massive destruction of green mass. It’s so absurd, disgusting behavior of human collective. When humans will wake up? I do not know.

    Separation from Nature was one of tragic moments of humanity I believe in. Nature provides everything we need. Permaculture proves it. Most farmers I’ve met completely blinded. The father of Free Energy, Nicola Tesla told, demonstrated alternative way of harnessing energy. But… What a mess.


  9. Thanks for visiting my blog and drawing my attention to yours – great! Will stay in touch. Be well. Lx


  10. I swear to God, Chris, I LOVE your blog. And insanely this information about trees is making me cry. Does that make any sense?


  11. I loved the part about “albido”…this is fascinating. How did you learn all of this?


  12. cecaroliena says:

    I like the post! My dense brain has only recently begun to realize that everything is connected. This provides even more evidence that the world works in such an interconnected way.

    A friend of mine linked me to this study on plant bioacoustics a while back. I haven’t gotten a chance to do more than an active skim of it, but it’s an interesting article and if you’re talking about how trees communicate with one another, this could be another thing to consider. It reminds me those moments in children’s cartoons when one kid’s science fair project involves a plant listening to rock and another plant listening to Bach… And the rock plant always thrives XD


  13. joannakarpowicz says:

    At present, I am mainly observing the physical motion of mountains, water, trees and flowers. One is everywhere reminded of similar movements in the human body, of similar impulses of joy and suffering in plants.
    Egon Schiele

    Awesome post, I’ll visit your blog more often 🙂


  14. Damon says:

    Reblogged this on Awakestate.


  15. eatartdaily says:

    I am married to a tree True story


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