The Secret Language of Trees

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Original Air Date: 
April 28, 2018

Using a complex network of chemical signals, trees talk to each other and form alliances with fellow trees, even other species. In fact, whole forests exist as a kind of superorganism. And some trees are incredibly old. Did you know a single bristlecone pine can live up to 6,000 years? And the root mass of aspens might live 100,000 years? We explore the science and history of trees and talk with Richard Powers about his epic novel "The Overstory."

That Tree in April 2017
Photo Gallery

Mark Hirsch took 365 photos — one a day for a year — of a single Bur oak tree. The project changed his life.

foggy trees
Articles

Suzanne Simard is a forest ecologist who's revolutionizing our understanding of trees. She has discovered that trees use underground networks to communicate and cooperate with each other. It turns out that whole forests can exist as a superorganism.

Tree
Articles

Richard Powers’ “The Overstory” is overturning a lot of conventional thinking. It’s been called “visionary” and “monumental” — and it earned him the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Though human characters shape the plot of this 500-page epic, the real heroes are trees.

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It's one thing to imagine the intelligence of a forest, but could you experience it? The Japanese concept of "forest bathing" might help. Forest guide Amos Clifford is a former Zen teacher who's one of the world's experts on forest bathing.

General Sherman, AKA Karl Marx
Audio

There's a famous sequoia named General Sherman that's the biggest tree on the planet. It has its own distinctive history linked to the Civil War general and a radical anarchist group. Cultural historian Daegan Miller tells this fascinating story.

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April 28, 2018
December 15, 2018
November 09, 2019
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Last modified: 
November 08, 2019