The Hidden Life of Trees Book Summary - The Hidden Life of Trees Book explained in key points
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The Hidden Life of Trees summary

Peter Wohlleben

What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World

4.7 (419 ratings)
21 mins

Brief summary

"The Hidden Life of Trees" by Peter Wohlleben is a fascinating exploration of the complex ecosystems and communication networks of trees. It reveals how trees form communities and care for each other, providing new insights into the natural world.

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    The Hidden Life of Trees
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    Our planet’s lungs: Trees play a vital role in global water and carbon dioxide cycles.

    Before diving into the fascinating abilities of trees, let’s take a brief look at their general importance.

    Humanity owes them a great deal: they clean the air we breathe and help ensure the availability of water, even in the world’s most remote locations. In fact, without trees humans would be unable to survive.

    If there were no trees, large swathes of the earth would dry out. As you probably remember from school, the way the global water cycle works is that water evaporates from the oceans, condenses into clouds that blow onto dry land, where it then rains down and trickles into streams and rivers that flow back into the ocean.

    However, this straightforward explanation omits one crucial fact: without trees, every cloud would rain down within 600 kilometers of the coast, leaving the inner parts of continents bone dry. Trees essentially act as gigantic water pumps, transporting water further inland. When it rains in a forest near the coast, much of the rain remains on the leaves of trees and the forest floor. This water then evaporates, forming new clouds that make their way further inland, where they rain down.

    In addition to hydrating the inner reaches of continents, trees also clean the air of carbon dioxide, thereby protecting the climate. They gather CO2 from the air and store it, and when they die, some of this gas is re-released into the atmosphere, but much of it remains in the tree.

    By burning these dead trees, whether in the form of coal or gas, we’re releasing this CO2 back into the atmosphere and contributing to global warming. What’s more, we’re producing so much CO2 that the trees can’t keep up – they are unable to store it.

    As you can see, without trees the earth and its climate would be much less hospitable to humanity.

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    What is The Hidden Life of Trees about?

    Trees are engaged in countless complex cycles and they constantly struggle for water, light and their own survival. This struggle has led to some astonishing abilities: trees communicate with one another, give each other assistance, collaborate with fungi and other creatures, have memories and have even developed their own version of the internet!

    The Hidden Life of Trees Review

    The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben (2015) uncovers the astonishing world of trees, revealing their interconnectedness and complex social lives. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With scientific research and personal observations, it offers a fascinating exploration of how trees communicate, support each other, and exhibit behavior similar to human societies.
    • By revealing the emotional and social lives of trees, it challenges our perception of plants and deepens our connection with nature.
    • Its blend of educational facts and engaging storytelling makes the book informative, captivating, and definitely not boring.

    Best quote from The Hidden Life of Trees

    In one handful of forest soil there are more creatures than there are people on this planet.

    —Peter Wohlleben
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    Who should read The Hidden Life of Trees?

    • Anyone who’d like to experience the woods in a very new way
    • Students of biology and ecosystems
    • People who work in farming or forestry, or who have their own garden

    About the Author

    Peter Wohlleben studied forestry and, for more than 20 years, worked in forest management. He quit his job to start his own forest enterprise in Germany’s Eifel region, where he championed alternative forestry and advocated for primeval forests. He has published multiple titles about forests and environmental protection, one of which is called Der Wald – Ein Nachruf (The Forest – An Obituary).

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    The Hidden Life of Trees FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Hidden Life of Trees?

    The main message of The Hidden Life of Trees is that trees have complex social networks and communicate with each other in fascinating ways.

    How long does it take to read The Hidden Life of Trees?

    The reading time for The Hidden Life of Trees varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Hidden Life of Trees a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Hidden Life of Trees is worth reading because it offers a fascinating insight into the interconnectedness and intelligence of trees.

    Who is the author of The Hidden Life of Trees?

    The author of The Hidden Life of Trees is Peter Wohlleben.

    What to read after The Hidden Life of Trees?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Hidden Life of Trees, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • At Home by Bill Bryson
    • The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte
    • Forest Bathing by Qing Li
    • In Pursuit of the Unknown by Ian Stewart
    • A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
    • Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
    • Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake
    • Finding the Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard
    • The Eight Master Lessons of Nature by Gary Ferguson
    • The Inner Life of Animals by Peter Wohlleben