Wood Wide Web

by | Apr 3, 2019 | Tree Blog

As an arborist I look to trees for guidance, lessons and better ways to live when attending to my human life.

Research originally undertaken in Oregon in the last decade has discovered a Wood Wide Web directly beneath our feet! The Wood Wide Web is made up of tree roots working symbiotically with an intricate web of Mycorrhizal fungi which grow in and around these roots. It resembles our human made, technological World Wide Web. A network which enables communication and trade across our planet.

Just like our World Wide Web, the underground network enables trees to communicate, trade nutrients and even wage war!

The symbiosis between the fungi and the trees works by the fungi giving the trees nutrients and in return, the fungi receives sugars.

However the network goes much further. The trees, once plugged into the fungal network, can share resources with other trees through this very network. If a tree is dying, it can dump all of its remaining nutrients into the network and nearby trees may be able to extract these nutrients for themselves to enable them to flourish.

The oldest, mature veteran trees in a group of trees can also send out nutrients to baby saplings to help them grow in their early years.

However it is not always a supportive network. Just like humanity where there are some who seek to get ahead behaving selfishly and with greed, taking little or no responsibility for the consequences. There are some species of tree that seek to exploit the fungal network like the Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) which send toxic chemicals out into the fungal web to kill off rival trees.

The wars rage above and below ground it seems.

It is true that trees and fungi are the oldest living organisms in the world, and they have evolved and existed for hundreds of millions of years to live together in harmony with the planet. So, when we have days when things seem overwhelming and we are forgetting what it is to just BE. Maybe there is conflict or the threat of conflict in our lives.

Slow down, breathe, and remember that trees and fungi have lived alongside each other in harmonious support all this time. And they’ve achieved this by going slow, making connections, sharing, going through conflict and pain together, never alone. One day at a time.

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