Trees are networkers. Far from the solitary splendour of the ancient old stager, it turns out that trees communicate with one another through their roots. Underground fungi — mycorrhizae associated with the root network — form a sort of subterranean internet that connects trees, passing messages and even nourishment between neighbours. Nor do trees passively tolerate the onslaught of insects on their tasty young leaves. Chemical signals carried on the breeze from infested trees cause forest fellows to crank up their own chemical armouries. It’s not a case of every tree for itself: the forest can behave as a single entity when it yields a great crop of acorns or beechnuts, or lies fallow for a year. Trees share a common response to weather and nourishment.
Dendrology: The community of trees
Nature 537, 306 (15 September 2016) doi:10.1038/537306a