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Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER - From the world's leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest--a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery

"Finding the Mother Tree reminds us that the world is a web of stories, connecting us to one another. [The book] carries the stories of trees, fungi, soil and bears--and of a human being listening in on the conversation. The interplay of personal narrative, scientific insights and the amazing revelations about the life of the forest make a compelling story."--Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass

Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

In this, her first book, now available in paperback, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths--that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

Simard writes--in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways--how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies--and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.

And Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world.
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384 pages

Average rating: 7.68




Community Reviews

Feb 23, 2023
6/10 stars
Not for everyone

My interest in nature and forests led me to read Finding The Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard. Luckily, I have a strong interest, as I needed it to be able to finish the book. Explaining ecological experiments and discussions of observations and findings is challenging to make enjoyable for a broad audience. Simard’s personal story is intertwined with her journey to finding the mother tree and the forest’s interconnectivity. I think the book is worth reading, albeit a struggle—it took me two months to read because I could only read about 20 pages at a time. I enjoyed the book, but it’s not for everyone. 3 stars.
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Dec 31, 2022
8/10 stars
This was really fascinating - I will never look at trees in quite the same way again! I also now hold a much deeper respect for plants and all their complexities. I was so excited by the idea that trees can communicate through an underground network, and can share water and vital nutrients through this system of connecting fungi. It was even more mind-blowing to learn that trees can recognize their offspring and prioritize sending nutrients to them. I am definitely taking away some useful ideas for success in my own garden, such as planting trees in clusters (rather than rows) and closer to existing, older trees. I had heard Suzanne Simard interviewed on the radio several times in promotion of the book, so had already heard many of her revelations, but the book goes into much more detail. It is also an autobiography which naturally explains the events and experiences which led Simard to her various discoveries. I was mostly interested in the parts relating to trees, rather than to her personal family stories which I sometimes thought were described in a little too much detail (for example the part about the rodeo) but her coverage of her fight with cancer was strong and compelling. It might be useful to note that Finding the Mother Tree contains a lot of technical and botanical language that is sometimes hard to follow - as a non-botanist - but most of the time I could gain enough of an understanding to appreciate the basics of the ideas Simard is presenting. The carbon-transfer research was particularly interesting and clearly explained for laymen readers. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by the author herself (and which was an obvious and suitable choice). I think listening was an easier choice for me, as I may have got bogged down and discouraged by some of the longer, technical paragraphs if I were reading the book myself.
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Steve Crandall
Dec 30, 2022
8/10 stars
A non-fiction piece with a very accessible discussion of the 'wood-wide-web' - how trees communicate with each other and how the discovery was made. It's also Suzanne Simard's autobiography, so sexism in science and a deeply personal story.
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Helen Bennett
Mar 21, 2022
Trees are simply wonderful
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