“We need more talkative trees.”
Fairy tales have trees with human faces, trees that can talk and whisper, and sometimes even walk or fly.
Yet, trees are despite all their brilliant features easy to ignore. They grow slowly, really slowly, and even if deciduous trees shed their leaves and burst with new leaves each spring they are sometimes just there in the schoolyard, local park or garden.
In education, the focus is often on identifying different types of trees and describing the shapes of leaves, needles or cones. But our understanding of trees have the last couple of years really increased and The Hidden Life of Trees has revealed some amazing things.
Can trees talk? Trees make lots of noises. Branches creak as the rub against each other and the leaves rustle. But these sounds are caused by the wind and not the tree itself.
Trees communicate by using smell. They send out chemicals to warn predators. The acacia tree on the African savannah that are being eaten by a giraffe give off a warning gas that warns other neighbouring trees, so they immediately start pumping toxic substances into their leaves. The giraffes ignore the neighbouring trees and move to another area, or to an area where the wind had nor transported the message.
Are there sad trees?
Peter Wohllenben the author of the The Hidden Life of Trees says that the saddest trees have lost their ability to communicate. The saddest trees are found in agriculture.
What else would make a tree sad?
Well, isolated trees are sad. Trees like to share and connect with other trees. Tree have a do to list and they need to grow a little and lack of nutrients, water and sunlight makes them sad.
We are making a tree with leaves that are falling off. On each leaf, we are writing suggestions of things that can make a tree sad.
Tricky question? Can you always tell if a tree is sad? Can a tree still have green needles but not being healthy and growing? (Growth rings is a sign that a tree is growing.)