Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

4 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Her family have always worked with the forest originally by logging parts of it and sending the vast trunks downriver. She joined the forest service and it was there that she first noticed that some trees that had been planned were really not doing well at all. She checked them and they had been planted to the specification laid out, these had been drawn up to ensure even growth of the trees, but they were dying. Yet nearby were trees in a patch of ground that was in rude health. What was going on?

In other parts of the forest, she would find seedlings growing happily under larger trees that seemed to be existing on almost no water, and yet elsewhere on new plantations, small trees were not getting the water and nutrients that they needed. She did not know how this was happening and working out why they were dying would consume her completely.

This book is the journey of that discovery, how she used radioactive carbon isotopes to see how water and nutrients were passed between trees in a healthy forest and what place the networks of mycelium played in the process.

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” – John Muir

I thought that this was very good indeed. She is a brilliant scientist and a good communicator. The work that she has done in investigating the way that mycelium connects between the same species of trees and very different species helps them both to live better. But tangled in this book is the story of her life and her battle with cancer and the fight she had with the forestry establishment and vested interests to get her research taken seriously. It is a seriously good read.

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  1. Sharon

    This one is on my list.

    • Paul

      I hope that you enjoy when you get to it, Sharon

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