“Howdy, What’s up Bro?
“Quite sunny up here. How’s the scene at your place?
“Well, mossy I would say. However, those red flowers on you look really beautiful. How I wish I could grow some.”
“Come on, Guava, your fruits have always been something I was jealous of.”
Some conversations remain unheard. But wouldn’t it be interesting to check out WhatsApp conversations of a ‘Tree Group’? Nah, I am not talking gibberish. Trees have life and that they move is a fact that was proven by scientist Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose. And recent discoveries have shown that they also have a complex underground communication network.
It is a superhighway of a communication system that lies hidden to the naked eye. Researchers call it the ‘wood wide web’. It operates much like the internet allowing plants to communicate, bestow nutrition or even bring harm to another.
A fungus called mycelium forms thin threads that grow outwards up to a few meters from its parenting plant. This forms a network that connects the adjoining plant bodies to each other. The roots of the plant and the fungus live in symbiosis and their relationship is called mycorrhiza. It is beneficial to both the plant and the fungus. While the plants provide carbohydrates to the fungus to feed on, the latter aids in gathering water and providing nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen.
This fungal network has been found to allow plants to aid one another in growth and flourishing. Suzanne Simard of The University of British Columbia was the first to show that trees such as the Douglas fir and Paper birch were capable of transferring carbon to smaller trees that may not be receiving enough sunlight, allowing seedlings to grow in the shade of other trees. Simard believes that many of the world’s seedlings would not be able to survive if it weren’t for the lifeline this network provides.
Astonishing isn’t it?
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