Take a walk through the woods alone and you’ll probably hear many different things. The gentle hum of the Earth brings a type of quality relaxation not much else can. What you don’t hear, however, is the complex communication that scientists believe is taking place under our feet.
Beneath the Earth, the roots of plants and trees are connected to one another, not physically, but through a super-highway of fungus that creates a unique web between the trees. Researchers have jokingly called this the “wood wide web.”
These fungi, called mycelium, grow to be as large as a few meters and connect with other mycelium. This network allows trees and plants to communicate some complex thoughts.
For example, if a flower is crushed, the flower can send a rudimentary warning to other plants that danger is afoot. But why does this network even exist? It’s all symbiotic.
The roots of these plants provide food to the fungus, and the fungus helps provide water and nutrients to the plants. This allows forests to thrive and grow as an interconnected group, not as individuals competing with one another.
Suzanne Simard, as a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, first discovered this network in paper birch and douglas fir trees.
They were able to transfer carbon to help smaller trees that didn’t get enough sunlight. It’s an example of mother trees taking care of their children.
Check out the video below to learn more about this incredible form of communication.