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The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

The Hidden Life of Trees (2015)

by Peter Wohlleben

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6261715,510 (4.02)28



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English (13)  French (1)  Danish (1)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  All (17)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
The Hidden Life of Trees is a fantastic little big book. It's little in length but big on new perspective and ideas. Originally published in German, Peter Wohlleben is an ex-forestry manager who decided to look beyond the typical knowledge of trees. He is a lifetime close observer who sees trees as a form of animal with memory, sensory input, paternal instincts. His basis is recent science.The other great thing is Wohlleben projects a sense of mystery about trees, he's like a Gandalf character speaking about the Ents, but always remaining grounded in the facts. Great stuff and great book. ( )
1 vote Stbalbach | Jun 23, 2017 |
Wow! A stunner of a book revealing secrets of how trees live long lives, and what causes them to die prematurely. I didn't know about and was amazed to learn of the 'social' network of support in a forest to assist each other with help from fungus and other organisms.

This gem of a book is rich in information that can be overwhelming to most readers. For me this means purchasing this book is a must because I've always adored trees, and this beautiful book already has and will continue to teach me more about how trees communicate, suffer, heal, and effect the environment and people. ( )
  Bookish59 | Jun 21, 2017 |
I found it excellent. ( )
  EdSpr | Jun 18, 2017 |
I had actually been avoiding this because I was leery of what looked like its blatant, unapologetic anthropomorphism. Its "woo woo" feel. The author describes forests as communities, trees as having friendships, personalities, parenting skills. He talks about the way they hear, feel, touch, talk. Even love. Really, it's enough to drive a person nuts.

But...as it turns out, Wohlleben takes this approach deliberately, in order to make his readers do one very specific thing -- let go of the instinctive hierarchy we all implicitly assume exists between the plant and animal kingdoms. And between humans, and all the rest of life on earth. So when he discusses the difference between a solitary tree planted in a park setting that rarely lives up to its potential girth or age and the tree in a forest setting surrounded by many others of the same species which lives longer and grows stronger, as the difference between being raised on the streets and being raised in a good stable family -- he's not exactly imposing human centric concepts on an oak tree. He's really trying to get the reader to view the plant world -- the tree world -- as something dynamic, sensitive and responsive to its own environment, participatory and engaged in that environment. And that is something that is surely true, even if the language of intention he often falls into makes me squirm.

But then, people tend to regard themselves as apart from the ecosystem. They are, one might say, unempathetic, blind and deaf to the pulse of other kinds of life. So they do not consider it a moral problem to, say, cut down a tree, because in a human's mind, they are not "hurting" anything. Wohlleben's book is basically an extended explanation and description of how someone hurts a tree-- and the forest -- by cutting it down. In the world of trees, the book would probably come with warning labels for graphic violence.

But it is all science -- all a detailed account of how a wounded tree attempts to heal itself, what happens if it can't, what happens when opportunistic species -- fungi, bugs, critters, (people!), exploit a weakness. And the science, it has to be said, is absolutely fascinating. Do you know, I never realized that the circulatory system of trees which brings water up and down the trunk -- explained to me in grade school as "osmosis and capillary action" -- is not understood? That neither osmosis nor capillary action can account for the amount of water that has to be pushed up sometimes hundreds of feet, gallons at a time. And in fact we just don't know how trees do it.

Wohlleben packs a lot of truly very cool scientific research into what is really a quick and very readable book, and if he is sometimes a little too speculative on what all that research is telling us, nevertheless he succeeds in what he set out to do: convince the reader that if we want to understand and be awake to the rhythms of life around us, then distinctions between plant and animal are arbitrary and not particularly useful.
6 vote southernbooklady | Jun 8, 2017 |
a meditation on these companions we we have always had but often overlooked. ( )
  a_forester | May 22, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Wohlleben's anecdotes are engaging, but sadly his book contains only a few.
added by MarthaJeanne | editNew Scientist, Sandrine Ceurstemont (Oct 29, 2016)

» Add other authors (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Wohllebenprimary authorall editionscalculated
Billinghurst, JaneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flannery, TimForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simard, Dr. SuzanneAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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