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Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

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4.39  ·  Rating details ·  331 ratings  ·  93 reviews
From the world's leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest--a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery.

Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she's been compared to Rachel Carson, hailed as a scientist who conveys complex,
...more
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published May 4th 2021 by Knopf
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Paradise There are a lot of photos - some colour of trees / fungus etc. Others are family photos. It's a beautiful book.…moreThere are a lot of photos - some colour of trees / fungus etc. Others are family photos. It's a beautiful book.(less)

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Lou
May 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Finding the Mother Tree a world-leading expert shares her amazing story of discovering the communication that exists between trees, and shares her own story of family and grief. Dr. Suzanne Simard was born and raised in the rainforests of British Columbia and has forged a lifelong relationship of love and respect with the trees. This relationship was the driving force behind her decision to dedicate her life to better understanding the forest and the network that connects the plant life withi ...more
Emma
So full disclosure - I discovered Suzanne Simard's work when I was in graduate school and it quickly became foundational to how I view the natural world and to my work as an environmental educator. It worked its way into multiple projects, including my thesis, and, at the time, I remember wishing more than anything that she had written a book. 5 years on, I woke up one day to find that she DID write that book BUT it's not out until May. And then I hustled my way over to Edelweiss, and I got to r ...more
Nigel
In brief - In the strange world we live in this is as important as it is powerful. I feel fortunate to have been able to read this book. I hope that its message resonates with generations to come.

In full
This book opens with Suzanne (the author) as a young forestry worker (seasonal) understanding that recently planted seedlings in a clear felled area of forestry were not doing well. The question in her mind is why. Nearby naturally developing seedlings are doing just fine. The book then goes bac
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jeremy
Mar 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
i can't tell if my blood is in the trees or if the trees are in my blood.
melding science and memoir, suzanne simard's finding the mother tree recounts her remarkable research into mycorrhizal networks, hub trees, and interspecies cooperation and reciprocity. simard, a professor and forest ecologist (and inspiration for the dendrologist character in richard powers' pulitzer prize-winning novel, the overstory), expounds upon the details and discoveries of her decades-long arboreal explorations
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Andrew Howdle
Jun 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Suzanne Simard's book is a worthwhile and fascinating read. As a book, however, it crosses genres and this isn't totally successful. Memoir and science are tricky elements to combine. Other admirable books read recently have struggled too. Autobiography tends to expose dull factuality and scientific objectivity can make the author's own life become dry.

Towards the close of Finding the Mother Tree, Simard contemplates a TEDyouth talk. Should she keep it scientific and plain (appear as an esteeme
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Onceinabluemoon
May 14, 2021 rated it liked it
As an avid gardener most of my life I'm very familiar with this topic through numerous books, I didn't know what I was in for when I started but I was instantly turned off by the author, her family heritage is clear cutting... I know she is trying to be the solution to the problem, but to me she was the enemy. I live in a severe fire danger state, right now they are clear cutting ancient oaks under huge swaths of power lines, its horrifying watching ancient oaks tumble, I actually cried sitting ...more
Sarah Boon
Mar 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
A good mix of the personal and the scientific in this detailed book about how Simard came to understand how trees connect with each other underground.
Peter Tillman
Good review in NATURE: https://www.nature.com/articles/d4158...
Excerpt:
"In 1997, ecologist Suzanne Simard made the cover of Nature with the discovery of a subterranean lace of tree roots and fungal filaments, or hyphae, in British Columbia (S. Simard et al. Nature 388, 579–582; 1997). It was “a network as brilliant as a Persian rug”, she recalls in her memoir Finding the Mother Tree — a network through which multiple tree species were exchanging carbon. The trees were cooperating.

The discovery
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Barbara
Simard's story is remarkable. From a family of Canadian loggers, she went on to work for the forest service in Canada, and later took an academic position in British Columbia. There were a lot of very "sciency" descriptions and many unfamiliar terms. However, as a scientist, she trots out data, and significant amounts of it, to demonstrate her research findings. As a researcher in the fields of education and linguistics, and someone who taught research methods to graduate students for over 25 ye ...more
John
May 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Such an excellent book with many interwoven facets: from personal biography, confessional, nature writing to hardcore forestry management science. Heartfelt and nicely paced, this book is a joy to read. I look forward to rereading it for years to come.
Kim
May 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A rich and powerful story, not just of how trees communicate and support each other, but of Suzanne's life and work, Finding the Mother Tree was one of the best memoirs I've read in recent years. Suzanne's ground-breaking research into trees and the practices we have foolishly relied on for years couldn't come at a better time. As we learn more about the world around us we can work to correct the errors that have proven detrimental to not just trees but all the creatures living on and amongst tr ...more
Luke Spooner
Jun 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
Typical moi, I loved a book about trees. The science is really cool (mychorriza!) and so is the author's personal story. Some prof's from UNBC and local communities are also referenced. ...more
Mandy
May 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Let me say at the outset that this is a vital book, which has opened up to me, and no doubt to many others, an important aspect of the ecology of trees that will have far-reaching consequences for the planet. Suzanne Simard, whilst working in the forests of Canada, made the discovery that trees seem to possess complex information “superhighways” in their roots that allow them to share information, and for older trees to pass on knowledge to younger ones. This discovery has led to a revolution in ...more
Subhayan
Jun 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Moving and thought-provoking memoir by Suzanne Simard, a scientist who peers into the lives of trees and forests and finds a saga which predates science. Her scientific work finds that reciprocity and cooperation among tree species and their underground networks of friends play a role as important, if not more, as intra-species competition in maintaining the health of a forest. While the research she did was pioneering in science, she draws inspiration from the teachings of indigenous people on ...more
Eryne
May 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this book down. I love the intertwining stories of an ingenious, female forester in the old boys club of forestry of the 80s and 90s and discovering the ways that the trees in the forest communicate with each other.

This book speaks to sexism, which is very much alive and well in BC's forest industry, and highlights how discrimination has reduced our collective ability to properly manage our forests by hushing many of the people who were (and are) learning how forests work.

It al
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Molecule
Jun 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a book about life as a scientist, a female scientist who discovered communication and collaboration at the heart of the forest and plant world that was dominated by system focusing only on the competition. At first, she was not taken seriously and her ideas were deemed controversial and rebellious. But she never gave up and now she is one of the most recognized plant scientists who revolutionized the way we think about plan communication. Suzanne Simard writes so gracefully and full of l ...more
John
Jun 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Best book I've read this year. A compelling memoir that opens up the complexities of forest ecology, as well as a heroic story of one woman finding herself and in so doing, contributing deep understanding to our plight as humans and what we can do to change course. ...more
Jess
Jun 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
A slow start for a worthwhile emotional payoff <3
Betsyzel
May 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I live three miles from Rocky Mountain National Park. I love every minute I spend in it. But this book has rocked my world view of forests..of all plant and tree life, really. Spoiler in this review is quote from book, below. It explains what you will know to be true after you read it. I wish every reader read it.
“Is it possible that the trees are as perceptive of their neighbors as we are of our own thoughts and moods? Even more, are the social interactions between trees as influential on their
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Lucy McCoskey
May 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
a scientific treatise written like a (to me, crime) novel
brilliant and easy to read except for too much science for this right-brained reader
the good old entrenched boys + the greedy companies won't listen to a shy female about climate change and self-defeating forest destruction
sigh
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Christine
May 18, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021_read
It's impossible for me to not compare this book to Robin Wall Kimmerer's "Braiding Sweetgrass", a book that I found deeply impactful. This book does not meet those same standards but I must still give it 4 stars because we absolutely need more people in the world like Robin Wall Kimmerer and Suzanne Simard (and Richard Powers, and others!) who are teaching us, reminding us, begging us to recognize that nature is wise, forests are wise, the earth is wise and that human beings are not the most imp ...more
Ben Rogers
May 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoyed Suzanne's TED Talk
Outstanding read.

The best book on forestry and trees since The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World, which also featured Suzanne Simard.

I thought the memoir aspects of this book were interesting. It reminded me of Lab Girl.

Highly recommended read!

4.8/5
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Laura Gardner
May 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The Intricate Nature of Trees

I first became aware of Suzanne Simard and her forestry research through an online TED talk that I watched as part of an arboriculture course that I had taken. The talk was engaging, enlightening, and inspiring. In it she spoke about the interconnectedness of and the collaborative, communicative and nurturing nature of different tree species and how networks of mycorrhizal fungi serve as connectors between them. These mycorrhizal fungi, located within a tree’s roots,
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Viola
Apr 04, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: environment



Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest
By Suzanne Simard

See interview with author Suzanne Simard “dispatches from finding the mother tree”
https://youtu.be/--secsuooko

From the forest ecologist who changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest--a personal journey of discovery.

Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; she's been compared to Rachel “Silent Spring” Carson; h
...more
Elainedav
Jun 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
This is easily the best memoir I have read in a long time. I was hooked after the first couple of lines - 'For generations my family has made its living cutting down forests. Our survival has depended on this humble trade.' That is not the opening I was expecting. I was expecting a book extolling the virtue of trees, talking about problems associated with deforestation and climate change and yet the opening seems to talk positively about cutting trees down. It makes sense when you read on. What ...more
Clement Kent
May 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2021
Debuting in fourth place on the New York Times Best Seller list for hardcover non-fiction is not bad at all for a book on fungi and trees. Keeping me reading avidly throughout three hundred pages is pretty good. But changing the present and future course of how we plant, care for, and harvest trees will be the best impact of all for this book by UBC forest scientist Suzanne Simard.

I knew enough about Simard to buy two copies, one for keeping and the other for circulating among friends. Although
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M.K. Nadall
May 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The author’s ground-breaking research on carbon sharing between different tree species was published on the cover of the journal Nature way back in 1997 (and labelled the Wood Wide Web). This and her subsequent work have diffused into the public consciousness and popular culture in films such as James Cameron’s Avatar. In the last decade there have been several other excellent popular science books on the topic of tree and plant communication and sentience. It has been a long wait to hear Suzann ...more
Yvonne
May 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I have been reading this book over the past week or so and it was such an interesting and eye-opening book.

Dr Suzanne Simard has learnt her trade over years of observations, discoveries and research. Born and raised in the rainforests of British Columbia, she has natural respect and a relationship with the trees. this comes across in this book as she recounts her childhood with memories, stories and also how she gradually worked to become the leader in the field she is today.

What started as a c
...more
William Wong
Jun 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finding the mother tree Suzanne Simard
The autobiography of a young girl growing up in the rain forests of British Columbia who finds a job with the forestry dept that is charged with the growing and farming of valuable trees from the forest. Inspired by her observation that the required procedure of cut and clean; clearing the forest of all vegetation and planting saplings in regimented rows did not ensure that saplings would prosper and to survive; caused her to believe that the practise was
...more
Vivienne
My thanks to Penguin Press U.K. /Allen Lane for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Finding the Mother Tree: Uncovering the Wisdom and Intelligence of the Forest’ by Suzanne Simard. I also have its audiobook edition narrated by the author.

Suzanne Simard is the world-renowned scientist who first discovered the hidden language of trees and coined the term: Wood Wide Web to describe the complex interconnectivity between trees.

In 2018 I had loved ‘The Overstory’ by Richard Powers, which was shortlisted for th
...more
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She is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; and has been hailed as a scientist who conveys complex, technical ideas in a way that is dazzling and profound. Her work has influenced filmmakers (the Tree of Souls in James Cameron’s Avatar) and her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

Articles featuring this book

Nature, in Her infinite awesomeness, can provide solace even when you’re stuck in the house. As a matter of fact, the numbers suggest that...
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“from a different fungal species. More than a million exist on earth, about six times the number of plant species, with only about 10 percent of fungal species identified” 0 likes
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