From the New York Times bestselling author of The Hidden Life of Trees comes a powerful return to the forest, where trees have heartbeats and roots are like brains that extend underground. Where the colour green calms us, and the forest sharpens our senses. Here’s what we learnt from The Heartbeat of Trees, in bookstores now.
- Even though the colour green calms our minds and promotes healing processes in us, it plays no role in the lives of most mammals – and we are among the only mammals to be able to see forests and trees as green.
- Trees store memories, respond to attacks, and transfer sugar solution, and perhaps even memories, to their offspring. All these abilities suggest that they must also have a brain, but no one has yet found any such thing.
- A tree’s root tips contain brain-like structures. The root tips feel, taste, test, and decide where and how far the roots will travel. If there is a stone in the way, the sensitive tips notice and choose a different route.
- The first trees elevated themselves above algae, moss, and herbs 380 million years ago. One of the reasons they did this was competition, which they could escape by growing taller. Plants that are able to unfurl their leaves above the leaves of others win the race for the sun.
- If you’ve noticed that plants are healthier after you’ve stroked them, you’re right. Scientists have discovered that plants stimulated by touch produce more jasmonic acid. This acid not only regulates height and triggers the growth of thicker stems so the plants are more stable, it also makes the plants more resistant to pests.
- Wild plants can make fundamental changes to adapt to the presence of people. A case in point is the bog orchid, which grows in the cool northern woods of North America. In the absence of bees as pollinators, these flowers imitate the scent of humans to signal to mosquitoes that there might be a meal available. In search of victims, the insects happen upon the flowers and unintentionally pollinate them.
- Dr. András Zlinszky and Professor Anders Barfod documented a rhythmic rising and falling of branches in some tree species, changing position every three to four hours. The scientists suggest that this could be a ‘heartbeat’, contractions used to pump water gradually upward from the roots to the branches – a heartbeat so slow that no one had noticed it before.
The Heartbeat of Trees reveals the hidden interactions between humans and trees, and how reconnecting with the natural world is the key to our survival. In bookstores now.