Its pretty sad when us old tree huggers can finally use science to prove what we’ve been saying for the last 40 years. But here it is. Trees are sentient, alive and aware. Trees have a heartbeat, they move in response to and in awareness of their environment, and move as a result of an internal process – a heartbeat about once every 2 hours.
They have a communication network between themselves using fungi in the ground through their roots and, if you use translation technology they sing. The two articles and video below illustrate these points.
Now, of course, my own two cents. My trees are very alive. I’m not sure if it is because I spend a great deal of time outside in the summer with them, thereby loving them and they know it, or whether all trees are this awake, I just know mine are and they know me and I know them. Point in case really illustrated this to me about two years ago.
It was in the middle of the summer after one of those rather violent Midwestern storms when I noticed a brown something out beyond my fence. Thinking it might have been an animal in trouble I went out to check. It was a brown paper grocery bag that got loose from someone’s trash, so with a sigh of relief I turned around to go back inside and promptly tripped. In the recently mowed short grass. Over nothing.
I went to take another step after congratulating myself on such grace in movement, and felt like I was being tugged back. It was like trying to move through something thicker than the air – like jello. I was right next to my forty foot corkscrew willow tree – which I think is beautiful and realized the tug came from the tree because it was easier to move back to the tree than away from it.. It was one of the strangest feelings, I couldn’t decode what the tree wanted, but I definitely ‘knew’ it was coming from the tree. So I stood there for a minute sending feelings of appreciation to it. It was like it just wanted me to know it was awake… or something. I do love that tree.
Not that any of the articles below ‘prove’ that level of functioning in a tree….but maybe someday we will all know.
Return to now
Until now, scientists thought water moved through trees by osmosis, in a somewhat continuous manner.
Now they’ve discovered the trunks and branches of trees are actually contracting and expanding to “pump” water up from the roots to the leaves, similar to the way our heart pumps blood through our bodies.
The only difference between our pulse and a tree’s is a tree’s is much slower, “beating” once every two hours or so, and instead of regulating blood pressure, the heartbeat of a tree, regulates water pressure.
“We’ve discovered that most trees have regular periodic changes in shape, synchronized across the whole plant … which imply periodic changes in water pressure,” András Zlinszky of Aarhus University in the Netherlands told New Scientist.
In his 2017 study, Zlinszky and his colleague Anders Barfod used terrestrial laser scanning to monitor 22 tree species to see how the shape of their canopies changed.
The measurements were taken in greenhouses at night to rule out sun and wind as factors in the trees’ movements.
In several of the trees, branches moved up and down by about a centimeter or so every couple of hours.
Here’s the change of movement charted in a magnolia tree. (Photo: András Zlinszky/Twitter)
After studying the nocturnal tree activity, the researchers came up with a theory about what the movement means. They believe the motion is an indication that trees are pumping water up from their roots. It is, in essence, a type of “heartbeat.”
Zlinszky and Barfod explain their theory in their newest study in the journal Plant Signaling and Behavior.
“In classical plant physiology, most transport processes are explained as constant flows with negligible fluctuation in time,” Zlinszky told New Scientist. “No fluctuations with periods shorter than 24 hours are assumed or explained by current models.”
But the researchers still don’t fully understand how the “pumping” motion works. They suggest maybe the trunk gently squeezes the water, pushing it upwards through the xylem, a system of tissue in the trunk whose main job is to transport water and nutrients from roots to shoots and leaves.
In 2016, Zlinszky and his team released another study demonstrating that birch trees “go to sleep” at night.
The researchers believe the dropping of birch branches before dawn is caused by a decrease in the tree’s internal water pressure. With no photosynthesis at night to drive the conversion of sunlight into simple sugars, trees likely conserve energy by relaxing branches that would otherwise be angled towards the sun.
These birch movements are circadian, following the day-night cycle.
Their new discovery is something entirely different, they say, because the movements happen at much shorter intervals. From <https://returntonow.net/2018/04/29/trees-have-a-heartbeat-scientists-discover/>
They also talk to each other through a fungi network as discovered by Suzanne Simard from the University of British Columbia
Two decades ago, while researching her doctoral thesis, ecologist Suzanne Simard discovered that trees communicate their needs and send each other nutrients via a network of latticed fungi buried in the soil — in other words, she found, they “talk” to each other. Since then, Simard, now at the University of British Columbia, has pioneered further research into how trees converse, including how these fungal filigrees help trees send warning signals about environmental change, search for kin, and transfer their nutrients to neighboring plants before they die. From <https://e360.yale.edu/features/exploring_how_and_why_trees_talk_to_each_other>
Did you know that they can Sing?
This vid is about the plants – but the trees do it too. The tech is amazing!
Trees have a heart beat…and mine like me.