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The Hidden Life of Trees

What They Feel, How They Communicate--Discoveries from a Secret World

Peter Wohlleben, Tim Flannery (Foreword by), Jane Billinghurst (Translator)


List Price: 24.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover, Abridged (8/28/2018)
Paperback (4/20/2023)
MP3 CD (1/30/2019)

September 2016 Indie Next List

“The Hidden Life of Trees reads like a 250-page epiphany. Wohlleben knows trees inside and out, and his revelatory examination of the inner lives of forests provides evidence of what many sensitive nature-lovers long suspected: that trees form friendships, sustain one another, and should be viewed as more than a natural resource. This is the kind of writing that can profoundly affect the way we live on this planet.”
— Stephen Sparks (W), Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, CA
View the List


A NEW YORK TIMES, WASHINGTON POST, AND WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER - One of the most beloved books of our time: an illuminating account of the forest, and the science that shows us how trees communicate, feel, and live in social networks. After reading this book, a walk in the woods will never be the same again.

"Breaks entirely new ground ... Peter Wohlleben] has listened to trees and decoded their language. Now he speaks for them."--The New York Review of Books

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BRAINPICKINGS - HONORABLE MENTION: SEJ Rachel Carson Environment Book Award - Shortlisted: Audible International Book of the Year Award - Books For a Better Life Award - Indie Choice Award--Nonfiction Book of the Year

Are trees social beings? In The Hidden Life of Trees forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration that he has observed in his woodland.

"A declaration of love and an engrossing primer on trees, brimming with facts and an unashamed awe for nature."--Washington Post

"Heavily dusted with the glitter of wonderment."--The New Yorker

Includes a Note From a Forest Scientist by Dr.Suzanne Simard

Published in Partnership with the David Suzuki Institute

Greystone Books, 9781771642484, 288pp.

Publication Date: September 13, 2016

About the Author

Peter Wohlleben spent over twenty years working for the forestry commission in Germany before leaving to put his ideas of ecology into practice. He now runs an environmentally-friendly woodland in Germany, where he is working for the return of primeval forests. He is the author of numerous books about the natural world including The Hidden Life of Trees, The Inner Lives of Animals, and The Secret Wisdom of Nature, which together make up his bestselling The Mysteries of Nature Series. He has also written numerous books for children including Can You Hear the Trees Talking? and Peter and the Tree Children. To learn more about Peter and his books, visit his website at Tim Flannery is a scientist, explorer and conservationist. He is a leading writer on climate change and his books include Atmosphere of Hope and The Weather Makers. Jane Billinghurst's career has been in book publishing in the UK, the US, and Canada, as an editor, publisher, writer, and translator. She is the translator of the New York Times-bestseller The Hidden Life of Trees by German forester Peter Wohlleben.

Conversation Starters from

1. When asked why Wohlleben chose to anthropomorphize trees, he said, “I use words of emotion to connect with people’s experience. Science often takes these words out, but then you have a language people can’t relate to and can’t understand.” In what ways is the anthropomorphism of trees effective in The Hidden Life of Trees?

2. The Hidden Life of Trees became a surprise bestseller, earning a place on the New York Times and many regional bestseller lists. What is it about the present that makes nature a popular topic right now?

3. Fungi, while functioning as the “wood wide web” for trees, can allow them to communicate and share crucial survival information. However, they can also damage trees by invading the bark and causing rot. How does this relationship reflect or parallel the one that humans have with the Internet?

4. Wohlleben mentions how a number of forest conservationist methods that help trees in the short-term actually damage a forest’s health in the long-term. In the forest that he works with in Hümmel, he has banned machines and only allows log removal by horses. Is technological advancement working with nature or against it?

5. When a woodpecker drills holes into a tree’s bark, the tree is then susceptible to rot or an invasion of fungi. On the other hand, birds play an integral role in plant reproduction by spreading seeds over long distances. How would you describe the complex relationship between animals and trees: Good, bad, or neutral? Why?

6. Western society places more of an emphasis on the individual, whereas Eastern society values a more collective culture. In terms of the way in which trees care for themselves and others, where do they fall in this spectrum and why?

7. In the first chapter called “Friendship,” Wohlleben describes himself being profoundly inspired when he observes that what he initially took for stones were actually remnants of a rotting stump that were kept alive by its neighbouring trees. Is there a significant tree or forest area that has affected your life?

8. What is the most important lesson that human society can adopt from the life of trees?

9. What misconceptions did you have about trees before reading this book? How did it feel to have your perspective change?

10. Wohlleben writes that people are more physiologically relaxed when journeying through a deciduous forest due to the chemical signals the trees release. However, this effect is absent in a walk through a coniferous forest.

•     Have you experienced this difference?

•     Which forest do you prefer to walk through and why?