Talks of the Mother tree and Baby trees
Did you know that trees talk? They share their food, transfer their wisdom and help each other survive.
Like humans, they are social beings too. Like a close-knit family of humans, trees also have interconnected families. The mamma trees talk to baby trees, protect them and nourish them. The older trees transfer wisdom and food to the trees that are in need. And the younger trees, while fighting to win the fundamental challenge of existence, wait to take up the responsibilities of older trees.
Unlike the age-old thought – trees only compete with each other for resources, trees actually cooperate with each other and aim at living together. But how do they do it? Let’s dig in!
How Do Mamma Trees Communicate with Baby Trees?
As per the forester and author, Peter Wohhleben (The Hidden Life of Trees: What they Feel, How they communicate?), the mother trees supply necessary nutrients to saplings, warn their neighbours about dangers, and pass on words of wisdom to young trees through a network called Mycorrhizal network.
The mother trees or the hub trees are the biggest and the oldest trees in the forest. They take up the role of nurturing and supporting the shallow-rooted seedlings or the baby trees. Key nutrients like water, carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and allele chemicals are supplied to baby trees through the mycorrhizal network.
- Mycorrhizal networks are the fungi networks that connect the tips of one tree to the other.
- The fungi and the trees work on a symbiotic relationship. Fungi take up 30 per cent of the sugar photosynthesized by the trees. In return, they transfer the key nutrients from one tree to the other.
- Mother trees supply sugar to the trees in shady areas, thereby providing a better chance for survival.
- The trees that are dying, dump their resources into the network so that it could be used by healthier neighbours.
- Trees can also send distress signals in the form of chemicals through the network in case of disease or emergencies.
- The downside of having mycorrhizal networks:
- The networks could be hacked by a few unnecessary plants or trees and sugars can be stolen.
- A few species like Black Walnut can pump toxic chemicals into the network and sabotage their rivals.
In a nutshell, the interconnected and interdependent web of trees converse with each other and are supportive of each other, albeit in ultra-slow motion. These tightly-knit complex relationships between the trees help the entire forest thrive and maintain the whole system intact.