For any of you that have seen the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, you probably thought about the gigantic walking trees that speak when you first read this title. And according to Shakespear’s Macbeth, “Stones have been known to move and trees to speak”
But is this all just imagination and fantasy, or are there really trees that speak? Well, a special team of scientists from the University of Washington believe that they do, plus they say they’ve obtained evidence that proves this.
Of course the trees conversations are not something that us humans can hear or understand, but none the less there are trees that speak.
The Evidence Gathered from the Trees that Speak
Most of the evidence gathered by scientists were focused on how stress effects trees. Things like drought, frost, lack of nutrition and even pollution are things considered to be stressful for trees and plants alike.
Scientists say that when the tress are subjected to elements such as these, they become stressed and more vulnerable to attacks from plant eating creatures and insects. It’s a very similar process that we as humans go through when we get sick. First our immune system gets low and we become more susceptible to infection and germs.
These types of stress will cause certain chemical changes to occur within the trees, just like the changes that take place when we humans get sick. The trees will begin producing more nutrients like amino acids and small amounts of protective chemicals when under stress, and these things may help protect them from insects.
Experiments of the Trees that Speak
A series of experiments were conducted by scientists on willow trees which placed caterpillars on some of the trees, but not the others. In the beginning the caterpillars were quite active in attacking the trees, but after a while scientists discovered the caterpillars were no longer doing much damage to the trees.
After analyzing their data, they discovered this was due to the trees producing more chemicals to help fight against the damage inflicted by the caterpillars, namely proanthocyanidin, it’s a sort of natural insecticide. But here’s where it gets weird…
After several weeks of observation, they noticed that the trees that did not have caterpillars placed on them, were also producing more proanthocyanidin. Apparently these trees were producing this chemical as a “just in case” mechanism in anticipation of possible attack from the caterpillars. This suggested that the trees that were under attack by the caterpillars were in fact signaling the unaffected trees to warn them of danger. “Hey there’s something attacking us over here, get ready!”
The Possible Theories
Scientists began to wonder if possibly the trees were speaking to one another by sending signals through their root system in the soil. But after extensive testing and experimentation, they found conclusively that this was not the case. So this left only one explanation. The trees were actually talking to one another from distances of over 100 yards!
Another theory scientists had was maybe the trees were producing pheromones that became airborne and were collected by the other trees, which warned them of the danger. Pheromones are simply airborne chemicals that act as a signal amongst same species living organisms. Normally pheromones are not present in large quantities, but are quite effective none the less. A good example of this would be pheromones emitted by the female moth, they can potentially attract male moths from hundreds of yards away. That’s a pretty powerful smell if you ask me.
So the research team concluded that the most likely method these tress were speaking through was the pheromone, hydrocarbon ethylene. These pheromones are transmitted through the trees leaves to one another and are an effective way to signal danger. Although this is a pretty good theory, research still continues on the subject. But one thing is for certain, there are definitely trees that speak.
Now just for the record, the point of view that there are trees that speak is not necessarily shared by all botanical scientists, but it’s for sure a good starting point to better understanding another one of the Earth’s living creatures. But so far science has taught us that most living creatures do have some form of communication they use to signal each other, especially in the event of possible danger. So why not trees too?
Tell me what you think about all this, are there really Trees that Speak?