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News  »  The Hidden Life of Trees ? A Review

   The Hidden Life of Trees ? A Review    1 July, 2022

The Hidden Life of Trees – A Review


This time I’m reviewing Peter Wohlleben’s book, The Hidden Life of Trees – what they feel, how they communicate: discoveries from a secret world.

This is a book I wish I had read when I was younger. Not saying it’s a life changing experience reading this, but it’s a mind altering and expansive read, for sure.  In some shops, I’ve found this on the philosophy shelf. From the title, some assume before reading, this is the limit of this book, but it does have an environmental science influence.

The running order of the sections of the book, is a flowing series of interesting titles, and every chapter clearly covers the theories behind various schools of thought.  For me, at times, some of the contents seemed too repetitive, and too speculative for the average reader, who might be sceptical. For example, there’s a lot of anthropomorphism in these pages, and some will argue, tree’s are not sentient beings, and should not be portrayed as such. People with experience in the field, might be more receptive to some of the newer ideas written about. Whoever reads it though, it will certainly profoundly change the way you look at Trees (and Forests).

The author highlights areas where universal understanding of tree biology may be weak. We understand trees extract nutrients from the ground, but this book, surprisingly to some, maybe, reveals that we don't actually always know how they do it. Osmosis, capillary action, or transpiration cannot always account for the heights the nutrients reach.

I think how trees support the weaker specimens, of the same species, hold metaphoric lessons for how humanity could maybe organise its societies better. The strong ones weaken themselves, to enable the weaker to strengthen, I don’t think I’ll ever forget Peter’s writings about this. Everyone should make time to read this book.

A wonderful book, that’s accessible, readable and clearly tells the story of the collaboration, in a multi-species forest ecosystem. The writing style develops in the reader, empathy for the forest ecosystem, and it’s a book which subtly alters perceptions of reality. In many ways, the book is profound, maybe because when it was written, it wasn’t meant to be?


Happy Gardening

Stuart Mabbutt

Wildlife Gardening Specialist


01865 747243

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