Dialogue with a tree
“Hi, I’m doing an expose for a Canadian Magazine called “The Science of Nature” and the thesis is how trees communicate with the rest of the forest. Are you in?”
“That is very near and dear to my heart and knowing that my personal root system is engaged with this entire forest, I am of course “in”. I am Oak elder, I am the eldest of the oak in this forest.”
“Ok, that is great, but can you tell me how you communicate with other plants. Do your roots actually talk to other plant roots?”
“Ha ha, ha, no not in the way we are talking now. Your words are reverberating and the sound waves vibrate the bark on my trunk, and I can make sense of what you are saying. And, the reason you can hear what I am telling you is that the swooshing of my leaves are forming sounds that you interpret as words. Most people do not hear our words, but just as sounds that a tree makes.”
“I see, so how do those sounds get made by your root system.”
“They don’t, by the way, what is your name?”
“My name is Brian, and I feel very privileged to be able to speak to you and for us to understand one another, Oak Elder.”
“The feeling is mutual Brian. The way we communicate is by way of chemicals. Each individual plant in these woods, manufactures in their roots five different chemicals. The order and prevalence of the chemicals relay a particular meaning to which another root syphons from the soil. In wet weather, we tend to communicate very fast, and in dryer weather, it is slow.”
“I hate to interrupt Oak elder, but doesn’t a lot of water dilute the chemicals and as such dilute the message sent to others?
“That is a great question Brian. Of course the density of the soil and the amount of water contained therein determine the quality and speed of the communication. The nature of the plant or tree also determines the sense they can make out of the tiny nuances in the chemical flow. That is, young plants need a more concentrated flow than do older plants, just because of their experiences, but the message eventually gets through. We in the forest do not need to be really quick because the instruction and information is not usually time sensitive.
“What do you communicate to other plants?”
“Well such things as spread your limbs to the north, because there is a bush that needs more sunlight, and we can encourage grass to grow thicker on the side of a hill to prevent erosion. Brian, I have expended a lot of energy talking to you and I need to shut down for a while, can you visit with me another day, I have much more to relate about our forest.
“I will, and Thank you Oak Elder I will come back in about a week.