Are trees just big living wooden things that we have to worry about? Is
there more to them than just trunks, branches, leaves, and roots? Is it so
farfetched to suggest that trees communicate to each other?
Trees do communicate with each other in ways that we cannot see and only
have just recently discovered. They do this by passing chemicals known as
hormones and pheromones within itself and to other members of its species.
When they do this within itself, hormones are manufactured within the buds,
leaves and even the roots for various purposes in the tree. These purposes
include growth promotion, growth stunting and healing. Some chemicals that
are produced in the buds, called auxins, are used in root development and
growth. Even chemicals that are produced in the top of the tree can be used
in the far reaches of the longest root. It is remarkable how a tree can
communicate to its different parts and that we can study this.
Studies have also been done to prove that there is something going on all
around the tree as well. Chemicals are passed through the air and picked up
by insects and other trees. Sometimes these chemical signals tell the other
trees in the area to boost their defenses against detrimental insects. There
are other times that the tree tells the insects in the area that it is
stressed out and, therefore, vulnerable to more insect attacks. It seems to
be quit self destructive, but there are thoughts that it is a way to take
the insects away from the healthy trees in the area as a way of preserving
For many different reasons, trees communicate within themselves and also to
others around them, whether it’s other trees or even insects. With recent
studies we can scientifically see that trees really are more than just big
living structures that have to be pruned or cut down.
Darrel Bley captured the audiences attentions at this years ISA Ontario
Conference held this past week in Kingston Ontario. Darrel currently
instructs and oversees the woody plants collection at the Niagara Parks
Botanical Garden and School of Horticulture.