Finding the Mother Tree

Suzanne Simard

Finding the Mother Tree



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Forests are not a group of single entities that compete with one another, but a social system that communicates through underground networks. Within this system, ‘mother trees’ play a key role in caring for other plants and guaranteeing the survival of the entire ecosystem. Finding the Mother Tree: Uncovering the Wisdom and Intelligence of the Forest contains the scientific memoirs of Suzanne Simard, as she shares her ground-breaking discoveries in forestry, intermingled with some key episodes of her personal life.

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Analysis and key concepts


The forest is social in nature, and the mother trees play a key role


Clear cut and free-to-grow are two very common practices in the woodworking industry in British Columbia


Suzanne Simard’s life is intimately connected with the life of the forest that surrounds her


Suzanne Simard carried out various interconnected experiments to help understand the network of relationships within a forest


The concept of the mother tree comes from the observation of the parental-style care that some trees provide to others


There are several criticisms of Suzanne Simard’s work, but the importance of the discoveries she has made is never disputed


The Mother Tree project aims to revolutionise the forestry sector with a view to creating an ever greater resistance to climate change




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Understand the life at the heart of the forest.
  • Help realise that a forest is more than just a bunch of trees.
  • Explore the concept of the mother tree, and mycorrhizal networks.

Suzanne Simard is a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia, and leader of The Mother Tree project. Simard MSc. and Ph.D. in forest ecology from Oregon State University, and a bachelor's degree in forest resource management from the University of British Columbia. Throughout her career, she has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, and has taken part in conferences all around the world. She is a fervent advocate of science communication as a means of helping people better understand important phenomena such as climate change.

Publishing house:

Vintage Books