Trees Have A Lot In Common With People


The sweeping pool of humanity is remarkable for many things, none more fascinating than that each individual person is unique! While almost all people have four limbs, ten fingers and toes, hair that retreats with age and much else in common, no two people, so far, including twins, out of about 8 billion on earth, look or are exactly alike. We are, we tell ourselves, like snowflakes, whose crystalline structures afford infinite variety.

Less understood is that we are also very like trees. Despite their outward similarities like ours – with limbs and leaves [hair] and a central trunk [body], no two trees – are even close to being exactly alike.

Trees, moreover, are like us in ways people and science are only beginning to understand. Trees have their own subtle ways of communicating on various subjects including the ability to warn other trees of threats. Researchers have discovered, for example, that trees are able to ascertain the presence of diseases that spread, and to communicate to other trees defenses that help contain those dangers.

We do not know whether trees are as prolific as people. We do know that there are many more of them than us – some 3.04 trillion. While trees are immobile, their means of reproducing have been exceedingly effective, even in the face of myriad threats from man and nature alike.

Trees have never gone to war with each other, as far as we know (“Lord of the Rings” fans, please do not send me email about this). But they surely have been misused by us people in our wars.

So as trees whisper/murmur among themselves, I wonder how they see us and – is it possible? – think of us. They may notice that some people care a lot about them as trees, while others care less. Surely, it must stand out to them that across the globe, we cannot seem to get along with each other.

The trees that I relate to most closely tell me they have ideas on the subject, that 370 million years of peaceful co-existence have taught them about the value of differences (species in their world; race, religion and much, much more in ours).

I am insufficiently fluent in tree language to fully understand what they are saying. But, I suspect we’ll all need to learn their language if we want to unlock the secrets of trees and discover how we might ‘live and let live’ – and allow both trees and people to collaborate and persist through millennia.


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