When trees put on their thinking caps

The more I read about trees, the more convinced I am that they possess a sort of intelligence. In the Paris Review, Cody Delistraty’s article “The Intelligence of Plants” summarizes a lot of the current thinking on how “smart” plants are. It’s interesting and compelling.

I just finished listening to the audiobook version of Peter Wohlleben‘s “The Hidden Life of Trees.” It blew me away, and several of the anecdotes from that book are included in Delistraty’s article, including the one about the stump of a tree that was felled about 500 years ago. The stump is still alive, despite the lack of leaves for photosynthesis. Apparently, surrounding trees have been keeping it alive, supplying it with the nutrients it has needed for the past 5 centuries.

I don’t think we’re anywhere near the dancing, singing trees of H.R. Pufnstuf fame (bummer), but the fact that trees care for their young, warn each other of threats and exhibit other behaviors that suggest some sort of sentience makes my walks through the forest much more interesting these days …

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3 Comments

  1. I know you eschew his work, but this sort of thinking was primary to J.R.R Tolkien’s work, where individual tree’s as well a whole forest’s were important characters.

  2. I wouldn’t say I eschew his work, but it’s not a genre I read much these days. And now that you mention it, I do remember those trees in Tolkien. I’d completely forgotten about that (it’s been, literally, 40 years since I read the Lord of the Rings, etc., and I never bothered with the movies.

  3. Good Call, the Movies are over rated. Their beautiful, but like so much that comes out of Hollywood , they don’t stick to the plot of the book.

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