Learning from trees

What can we learn from plants and trees that grow around us? Neural networks? Brain connections? Sharing what I learned from trees over the past few weeks!

I live in a place surrounded by Maple trees, and one tree fell down on one side of the yard during a storm few years back. We had the fallen tree removed and filled the open spot.

A month passes… we see a lot of mushrooms popping up in the yard! We get the lawn maintenance guys to help clear them!

A year passes…. we see a lot more insects and bugs in the yard and some trees needing care!

A year passes… started seeing other trees needing more attention than usual…

I thought it was just the natural yard maintenance issue, and continued with regular maintenance.

Recently, when I started seeding indoors, noticed that the nightshades (peppers and eggplant seeds) started growing after I removed the rest of the plants from near it and had re-planted them outdoors.

Was there a connection between the plants..? Were there shared resources? Something had changed and I could not understand what had happened.

Documentary on Forests

Happened to watch the Intelligent trees documentary on Amazon Prime! For anyone interested in gardening, forestry, research or environment – you will find it absolutely amazing! Those 45 minutes are well worth it!

Tree connections

In Forestry, there is a research underway that explains the Wood Wide Web… where research is being conducted on how food and nutrients are being supplied and shared between trees in the neighborhood, sort of like a community pool of resources.

Brain connections and Neural Networks

Our brain connections are called neural networks (like below) connect and help communicating the orders from the brain to different parts of the body. Neurons help pass the message across our body.

Brain – Neural networks

World Wide Web of computers

We started to simulate this effective mechanism in computer systems calling it the world wide web (in simple layman terms – internet).

Every bright dot seen here is a server that connects multiple systems. When a server goes down, many computer systems are impacted.

Human interactions and Social networking

Even in social networking, we use the same philosophy. The bigger circles below are the nodes that connect multiple smaller group of people together! They form the core of how human networking works!

Wood wide web (Trees)

Just like this, trees form communities where we live and even complex networks in forests called wood wide web.

Wood Wide Web

Water, minerals and other nutrients are shared. What happens to the survival of the fittest logic that we have heard for ages! Apparently, that is not the case! Living and thriving in communities is how the trees support the plants around them!

Belowground Plant-Plant Interaction by Common Mycorrhizal Network (CMN)

How the roots and plants and trees in your yard are sharing nutrients!

So, what can we learn from trees…?

  • Fungi seem to be the most crucial organism that helps build the bonds between the plant/tree roots aiding in nutrient transfer!
  • The mother tree (like the server) is the hub that looks out for all trees nearby, sharing nutrients and encouraging or discouraging seeds/smaller plants to grow nearby or farther away 🙂 How wonderful is that – mothers naturally tend to create or get into a community even amongst us!
  • Key connectors come to the limelight when the main hub is removed (cut/eliminated).
  • It takes years of research to find out which trees are the main hubs in forests. Perfectly applies to organizations where we seldom see the relationships on-the-surface and only get to know who and how much they are missed, after losing them!
  • The history of the network and how the plants support each other and thrive gets lost if trees are just cut (just like our family histories and culture)
  • Trees support not only their species to thrive, they support other species as well. Like Birch trees support fir trees to grow and thrive in the area and vice versa!
  • Lot of research is being done (and needs to continue) to see which species can support and thrive together in communities while planning forests (both planting and trimming).
  • Surprisingly, this industry thrives on horses to move lumber and this work is a specialized skill

Did I get my answer?

Yes. The tree that had fallen seemed to the mother tree/hub in my yard, causing the changes. While it will take some time (maybe years) to settle down, they slowly will figure out a way to re-connect and thrive! Fungi are important for the lawn – what is the right level (I do not know.. but the soil and trees around know). We need to respect them and let them be!

Trees around us teach us to stay connected and thrive as a community supporting each other!

Glad to have watched the documentary! It connected so many threads in my mind!

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