Trees, Our Oldest Companions

Trees form a community beside the river.

Trees form a community

Trees may be our oldest companions. Humans and trees have been included in the same stories and myths since just about the beginning of time.

No wonder it feels good to be around trees. They’re like old friends. We find them just about everywhere – in our yards, in forests, in parks, around businesses and public buildings.

If you visit a public library in your town, you will probably find trees there. You’re probably find them around your school. Trees provide shade, beauty, homes for animals, and they even help to create the oxygen we need to breathe. In turn, we breathe out carbon dioxide, which trees need to survive. Some trees give us food to eat, like fruit and nuts.

One amazing thing about trees is that they have networks of communication that link them together, sort of like the internet. The networks are made up of mycelia, which are fungal threads. These mycelial networks connect trees from one community, forest, yard and city to another. They are made up of tiny fungal threads that wrap around tree roots or sometimes bore into them. They form a life support system that transports needed nutrients to each fungus and tree over a long distance. That’s pretty amazing.

Because trees are so connected, they can send each other messages. They can carry distress signals about droughts, about disease, about insects that are attacking some trees. Those messages help the trees be more prepared so they can change their behavior to survive more easily.

The next time you’re around a tree, think about how important you are to each other. Trees and people help each other to be healthier and to survive well. Spring will be here in less than two months. If you want to, plant a tree in your yard to help celebrate the wonderful relationship that trees and people have shared for thousands and thousands of years.

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