Do trees learn about the world?

Communication is not just the domain of humans and animals, it is also part of the secret life of trees.

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Sep 14, 2018
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How we learn about and engage with our surroundings is very individual. But the way organisms think and behave is not just restricted to humans and animals. Research has discovered trees and plants have developed their own system of thinking, communicating and behaving. In this episode, Phillip Adams talks to Peter Wohlleban, a forest ranger from Germany, about his revolutionary research into how plants think and communicate. He has found that plants and trees communicate electronically and chemically with one another, and use the fungal network or as Peter coins it: “the wood wide web” to reach out to the forest community. Trees apparently have ‘brain like’ processes growing at the tip of their roots that can work out what’s happening in the soil. These processes assist trees identify their own seedlings and in response, the tree pumps out sugars through its roots to nourish the seedlings. According to Peter, trees can also learn, count and have a memory. In ten years time, Peter believes the global community will be looking after trees with the same level of care as we currently do with animals. 

Please listen to this novel perspective on how these organisms think, learn, behave and communicate on a very different level to our own here

Episode: The Secret Life of Trees 

Program: Late Night Live - ABC Radio

Broadcast Date: 19 January 2017

Go to the profile of Gabrielle Ahern

Gabrielle Ahern

Community Editor, npj Science of Learning Community

I have developed a mixed portfolio of skills and experience in science communication and in my spare time, I develop original content to educate others about different themes in science. My qualifications include a BA (GU), BMarSt.Hon (UQ), CertIV in TESOL (ACC), GCertTertTLP (UOW) and a GCertJ (UQ). You're welcome to contact me for a chat.

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