Review: The Hidden Life of Trees

What They Feel, How They Communicate―Discoveries from A Secret World

A New York Times bestseller

With more than 2 million copies sold worldwide, this beautifully-written book journeys deep into the forest to uncover the fascinating—and surprisingly moving—hidden life of trees.

“At once romantic and scientific, [Wohlleben’s] view of the forest calls on us all to reevaluate our relationships with the plant world.”―Daniel Chamovitz, PhD, author of What a Plant Knows

Are trees social beings? In The Hidden Life of Trees forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. We fail to understand trees because “they live on a different time scale” from us.

According to Peter Wohlleben, we fail to understand trees because “they live on a different time scale” from us. One of the world’s most venerable trees is a spruce in Sweden that is 9,500 years old. Wohlleben draws on decades of experience as a forester in Germany’s Eifel mountains for this eye-opening book. He starts with wise words for those entering a forest: “Slow down, breathe deep and look around.” Not only is the air cleaner under trees, as their leaves filter out harmful pollutants, but pine forests release defensive compounds that kill germs: “Trees disinfect their surroundings.” Trees also release oxygen, so a walk in the woods is “like taking a shower in oxygen”. Wohlleben’s aim is to let us see the trees and forests around us not just as “lumber factories” but as wondrous organisms, as complex as any animal. Trees are, for instance, “social beings”, communicating with each other through their roots, thanks to the fungal “wood wide web” that permeates the forest soil, even sharing nutrients in hard times.

Wohlleben shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in his woodland.

This book will change your view of the wooded world.