The Hidden Life of Trees

How can you understand the lifecycle of something that lives for hundreds of years? Do trees have brains? These questions and more are asked in The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, a book which I read in about three days this week.

I love trees. They're tall and stoic, so I relate to them. Like Peter, I too feel a sense of serenity and belonging when walking beneath an ancient forest canopy and that is not just because most ancient forest canopies I've walked under have been adjacent to a thriving craft beer industry. There was a day in Switzerland last month where we walked through a forest ever so briefly and it reminded me of the endorphins of hiking in the forests in the Pacific Northwest. Nearly every chapter in this book also gave me that feeling.

In Hidden Life, Wohlleben summarises the results of many studies into trees and tree "behaviour". Do trees have a sense of taste and smell? They can react in different ways to different predators. Can they remember, and count? They respond to stimulus in different ways after being conditioned, and seem to know what time of the year it is. Do they have friends and enemies among their forest neighbours?

The answers are fascinating, though simplified from what I am sure are rigorous scientific experiments. However at times I did worry that the author may love trees too much. A lot of his narrative seems to be personifying natural selection, biology and physics as thought, knowledge and memory. Surely trees don't have brains. What they have is really just chemical reactions and electrical impulses.

Which, I guess, is actually how my brain works as well...

Perhaps the real problem here is that I have personified myself too much.

Comments

Add Comment
Toggle Comments Form
Next Entry: Holiday Heroes

Water Bottle After a day of juggling water refills in the four small bottles we accumulated on the flights over, we bought this bottle in Rome and proceeded to refill it countless times from the free and often constantly running water taps in Italy, Switzerland and Paris. The bottle finally went dry at the security checkpoint for the final flight back into Australia due to the Australian government's policy to keep incoming passengers dehydrated.

Promoted Entry: Perfect Fits

Have I outgrown my childhood love for Lego?

Promoted Entry: Winter 2018

Winter is over! As well as another three months of me making a video every day.

Previous Entry: Chance of a Shower

I've been back from Europe for over a week now. Did I ever really go there?


Enjoy what you've read? Want to receive updates and publishing news in your inbox? Sign up to the bradism mailing list. You'll also receive an ebook, free!