The Hidden Life of Trees
What They Feel, How They Communicate--Discoveries from a Secret World
September 2016 Indie Next List
— Stephen Sparks (W), Green Apple Books on the Park, San Francisco, CA
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A New York Times bestseller
With more than 2 million copies sold worldwide, this beautifully-written book journeys deep into the forest to uncover the fascinating--and surprisingly moving--hidden life of trees.
"At once romantic and scientific, Wohlleben's] view of the forest calls on us all to reevaluate our relationships with the plant world."--Daniel Chamovitz, PhD, author of What a Plant Knows
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 he has observed in his woodland.
After learning about the complex life of trees, a walk in the woods will never be the same again.
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
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
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?