A few weeks ago I read my 6 year old "The Great Kapok Tree," by Lynn Cherry. A powerful children's book that reflects the consequences of cutting down a single tree in the rainforest. After a few swings of the axe, the logger falls into a lucid dream, where he is visited by an array of beautiful forest dwellers, whose common thread is the tree. After reading this I was curious of what happens below the forest floor when trees are logged.
Suzanne Simard's work not only answered my questions, but engendered an internal paradigm shift in how I view nature and life.
Underneath the forest floors are complex mycorrhizae networks, spreading and connecting trees through silk white fungal threads called mycelium, which spread from mushroom stems. Simard descibes the mycelium as being "so dense that there can be hundreds of kilometers underneath single footstep." Within a network of connected trees, MOTHER TREES can nurture hundreds of young seedlings (infant/toddlers). MOTHER TREES communicate w seedlings though carbon, phosphourous, and nitrogen and also share defenses, water and hormones. By providing this free child care within the network, a MOTHER TREE increases a seedlings likelihood of survival 4x!!!! A healthy neighborhood benefits and strengthens surrounding networks, which overlap into a single functioning organism.
MOTHER TREES do not differentiate between seedling species, it does recognize a seedling rooted from it's own fallen seed. Mother trees will not only free up more root space but also provide their kidlings with more nutrients ( a littel nepotism). If a MOTHER TREE is sick or dying, she will spread years of wisdom and energy to the young seedlings in their network. When a MOTHER TREE dies, other MOTHER TREES step up. But a single neighborhood can only lose so many MOTHER TREES, before the network collape, and MOTHER NATURE can only lose so many neighborhoods.
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