Did you know trees heal each other through mycorrhizal connections?

Although these trees are not native to the UK we thought this was an interesting story. So get the kettle on, kick back and enjoy this read about how trees are more awesome than humans. 

Several species of trees produce root grafts, this basically happens when the different root systems form connections and start to grow together. These basically start to work together as one living organism. 

Here’s an example of a so-called “tree’s knee”. This is a living stump of a Douglas-fir that has healed over with bark and is kept alive via mycorrhizal fungal connections between its roots to the roots of living trees surrounding it, who send it nutrients to survive in this sort of zombie nub state. To look at these stumps they do make you wonder how a dead tree can be kept alive, and heal over its exposed wood in a self-protective act to prevent pathogens and decay from entering its network.    

Firstly resin soaks into the exposed areas, forming the start of the protective layer. Once the resin is soaked in, the cambium (active growth layer just under the bark) starts to form a callus in order to heal the wound. Much like a tree heals when you take a branch off. Sometimes this goes on until the stump is fully capped. 

These fully capped stumps stay connected to the other trees around them. Though douglas-fir can not sprout a new tree as other species can, the stump can actually increase in girth over the years too. This story of selflessness fills your heart with hope, yet the truth is it’s not all rainbows and unicorns, grafted roots can be a way for diseases to spread between trees. But it is fascinating to know that some species like the douglas-fir have evolved to have such defence mechanisms. 

Nature is an awesome reflection of the weird and wonderful creation we live in.

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