How Trees Talk

Can you imagine trees communicating beneath your feet? What secrets do forests share through their hidden underground network?

In the enlightening video “How Trees Talk,” Dr. Suzanne Simard takes viewers on a journey into the hidden, interconnected world beneath a forest’s surface. This fascinating exploration reveals the complex and sophisticated network of mycorrhizal fungi, known as the “wood wide web,” which connects trees in a dense, interdependent web of life. Dr. Simard explains how this underground network facilitates communication and resource sharing among trees, transcending species boundaries and functioning as a unified organism.
The concept of “mother trees” is introduced, highlighting how these pivotal trees nurture younger ones, sharing nutrients and vital survival information through the mycorrhizal network. This intricate system allows for the transfer of carbon, defense signals, and wisdom from older, dying trees to the next generation, ensuring the forest’s resilience and continuity. The video delves into groundbreaking research that uses isotope tracing to visualize the flow of resources and signals through this network, emphasizing the communal and cooperative nature of forest ecosystems.
However, Dr. Simard also addresses the vulnerability of forests to human activities like clear-cut logging, which can disrupt these essential networks and lead to widespread ecological consequences. She warns of the tipping point where removing too many key trees – the “hub trees” – can lead to catastrophic collapse of the entire system. Such destruction affects not only the trees but also the broader environment, impacting water cycles, wildlife habitats, and contributing to climate change.
The video concludes with a powerful message advocating for the preservation of old-growth forests, the guardians of genetic diversity and mycorrhizal networks. Dr. Simard calls for sustainable forestry practices that protect mother trees and their networks, allowing them to impart their wisdom to future generations. She emphasizes the need for diverse, multi-species replanting and natural regeneration to restore and maintain the health and resilience of forest ecosystems. Ultimately, “How Trees Talk” is a call to action to recognize and preserve the remarkable, cooperative intelligence of forests, fundamentally challenging the way we view and interact with these vital ecosystems.

Imagine you’re walking through a forest. I’m guessing you’re thinking of a collection of trees but a forest is much more than what you see. Underground there is this other world, a world of infinite biological pathways that connect trees and allow them to communicate and allow the forest to behave as though it’s a single organism.

Mycorrhiza literally means “fungus root.” They’re the mushrooms. The mushrooms are fungal threads that form a mycelium and where the fungal cells interact with the root cells, there’s a trade of carbon for nutrients. The web is so dense that there can be hundreds of kilometers of mycelium under a single footstep. That mycelium connects different individuals in the forest, individuals not only of the same species but between species.

We have found that mother trees nurture their young. A mother tree can be connected to hundreds of other trees. We have found that mother trees will send their excess carbon through the mycorrhizal network to the understory seedlings. They even reduce their own root competition to make elbow room for their kids. When mother trees are injured or dying, they also send messages of wisdom on to the next generation of seedlings. We’ve used isotope tracing to trace carbon moving from an injured mother tree down her trunk into the mycorrhizal network and into her neighboring seedlings, not only carbon but also defense signals. Through back and forth conversations, they increase the resilience of the whole community. That’s because there are many hub trees and many overlapping networks. So trees talk.

But they’re also vulnerable, vulnerable not only to natural disturbances like bark beetles that preferentially attack big old trees but high-grade logging and clear-cut logging. You see, you can take out one or two hub trees, but there comes a tipping point, because hub trees are not unlike rivets in an airplane. You can take out one or two and the plane still flies, but you take out one too many, or maybe that one holding on the wings,and the whole system collapses. Massive disturbance at this scale is known to affect hydrological cycles, degrade wildlife habitat, and emit greenhouse gases back into the atmosphere, which creates more disturbance and more tree diebacks.

We need to save our old-growth forests. These are the repositories of genes and mother trees and mycorrhizal networks. We need to reestablish local involvement in our own forests. When we do cut, we need to save the mother trees and networks so they can pass their wisdom onto the next generation of trees so they can withstand the future stresses coming down the road. We need to regenerate our forests with a diversity of species and genotypes and structures by planting and allowing natural regeneration. We have to give Mother Nature the tools she needs to use her intelligence to self-heal. And we need to remember that forests aren’t competing with each other, they’re supercooperators.

“Every organisms in the forest has its own rule to balance the ecosystem or the energy flow.”

“Beautiful…I can always feel their energy…I always hug my trees and talk to them.”

“I have always had a passion for trees, and forests are where I find most peace. Being a gardener, I have known about this world under our feet and, as stewards of this one earth that we share with nature, we should all take time to be curious and inform ourselves on how to do it properly.”

“Somehow I’ve known this for most of my life. It is good to see it scientifically recognized.”

“If everyone could watch this video, another world we could have!”

“Amazing video footage with fascinating information.”

“Absolutely love this awesome video. What an amazingly magical boarding school Mother Earth provides us with.”





“Another Version Of You” – Chris Zabriskie


We bring your story to life

Find out how video storytelling can help your audience resonate with your sustainable idea, research, campaign or product.

Related stories

How can we transform our role from Earth’s conquerors to its healers, reigniting the ancient wisdom that regenerate the Earth?
Did you know bees can taste with their feet and shape their world in remarkable ways? What other secrets for sustainabel living do they hide?

Get our latest video releases
in your mailbox bi-weekly

We never send solicitations or junk mail and we never give your address to anyone else.

The following is a step by step guide to translating our videos.

How to translate sustainable human videos

Here is some instruction so you can easily translate the videos.

Required Tools:

- A Computer.
- Internet Connection.
- A basic text editor program like Notepad or Wordpad.

What Is a .SRT File?

A .SRT file extension is a SubRip Subtitle file. These types of files hold video subtitle information like the start and end timecodes of the text and the sequential number of subtitles.

Steps To Translate A Video

Step 1 : Locate the appropriate .SRT file.
In the embedded spreadsheet below, find the title of the video you wish to translate. Check to be sure that your language has not been translated yet.


Step 2: Download the SRT file.
Double-click on the .SRT file for the video you wish to translate. Click on the Download button.
Step 3: Translate the file.
Open the file using any basic text editor program such as Notepad or Wordpad or equivalent. Do not open in Microsoft Word as it will corrupt the formatting. After opening the file, you want to REPLACE the English text with your language, line by line, keeping all numerical and time formatting. When you finish, rename the file with the name of the language you translated.
Step 4: Upload your new .SRT file using form below.
When you submit your translation file and provide your email, we will inform you once we have uploaded it to the video. Please allow for 24-48 hours for us to do this as it is a manual process.

How has this video story impacted you?