We tend to think of trees as individual entities, each one with its leafy or needled top and its own underground collection of roots. We now understand that the trees of some forests are linked below ground through networks of mycorrhizal fungi which serve to bridge the gap between one tree’s roots and another.
In an “obligate symbiotic” relationship, the trees and the fungi require each other in order to survive. The tree supplies the fungus with carbohydrate energy. In return the fungi supply the tree with water and nutrients gathered from the soil.
Most importantly, each network of trees is centered on “mother trees” — the oldest largest trees in the network. Not only do the mother trees serve as hubs to distribute necessary nutrients to younger trees via the mycorrhizal network, they also pass on their legacy after they die.
This research provides strong evidence that maintaining forest resilience is dependent on conserving mycorrhizal links, and that removal of hub trees could unravel the network and compromise regenerative capacity of the forests. –Suzanne Simard
Watch as Dr. Suzanne Simard, professor with the UBC Faculty of Forestry, explains:
Read more here: Do Trees Communicate?