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67Cup

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There is some fascinating research on trees and their capacity to transmit to other trees, even of different species, nutrients and even “information.” The most accessible introduction to the subject is a Ted Talk by UBC Forestry professor, Suzanne Simard. Here is a link.
. Check it. She is a very good communicator.

There are a number of other YouTube videos by Simard that can easily be located. She has also published a readable by non experts book called Finding the Mother Tree.

Simard and other colleagues assert that information and nutrients pass through a complex underground web, from root system to root system, in which mushrooms and other fungi play a key role. (The mushrooms we see above ground represent the tip of an iceberg of underground connections.) Older trees, “mother trees” as Simard calls them, play a key role in enhancing the wellbeing of seedlings and young trees.

If Simard and colleagues are right it seems to me there may be implications not just for her primary concern, namely forests. There may be implications also for the way we plant trees in our urban setting. Perhaps the way we do things, planting “orphans“ in concrete containers a set distance apart is less likely to produce healthy trees. Perhaps we should be planting in clusters, around existing trees and sowing the spores of fungi with them. By the way, do most of the trees we plant look to you as if they are thriving, the way we are doing things now?

I don’t know about all this. I am the farthest thing from an expert in the field. Perhaps the real experts disagree with Simard for all I know. But there are folks on UT who know far more than I do. I would hope to see a conversation get going here about our tree planting strategies. My instinct is that a city with healthy trees is also a city with healthy humans.

Thanks for thinking about this.
 

Northern Light

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There is some fascinating research on trees and their capacity to transmit to other trees, even of different species, nutrients and even “information.” The most accessible introduction to the subject is a Ted Talk by UBC Forestry professor, Suzanne Simard. Here is a link.
. Check it. She is a very good communicator.

There are a number of other YouTube videos by Simard that can easily be located. She has also published a readable by non experts book called Finding the Mother Tree.

Simard and other colleagues assert that information and nutrients pass through a complex underground web, from root system to root system, in which mushrooms and other fungi play a key role. (The mushrooms we see above ground represent the tip of an iceberg of underground connections.) Older trees, “mother trees” as Simard calls them, play a key role in enhancing the wellbeing of seedlings and young trees.

If Simard and colleagues are right it seems to me there may be implications not just for her primary concern, namely forests. There may be implications also for the way we plant trees in our urban setting. Perhaps the way we do things, planting “orphans“ in concrete containers a set distance apart is less likely to produce healthy trees. Perhaps we should be planting in clusters, around existing trees and sowing the spores of fungi with them. By the way, do most of the trees we plant look to you as if they are thriving, the way we are doing things now?

I don’t know about all this. I am the farthest thing from an expert in the field. Perhaps the real experts disagree with Simard for all I know. But there are folks on UT who know far more than I do. I would hope to see a conversation get going here about our tree planting strategies. My instinct is that a city with healthy trees is also a city with healthy humans.

Thanks for thinking about this.

As someone moderately knowledgeable on the subject............

There is no question to me, based on the research, and my experience, that the right trees do better together; and that mycorrhizae (the relationship between fungus and plants) is also impactful on plant success (in many cases).

Its a bit complex in that what effects one species positively may be less impactful to another.
But in general, trees benefit from more soil volume, the ability of the soil to retain moisture, the nutrients in the soil, the ability to share nutrients, and other essentials w/other plants w/which a symbiotic relationship exists.

Solitary trees in concrete boxes are rarely, if ever, a good idea.

The question of how to give trees added opportunities in non-natural contexts however, is a bit more complex.

Trees (and other plants) may benefit from lots of things, in moderation, the way they may be seen in nature, but not at levels that might be provided in Cities.

As example, animal feces. Varying by species, but broadly, feces can be considered fertilizer.
A half-decent primer can be found here: https://www.westcoastseeds.com/blogs/garden-wisdom/poop-manure
Note, that in urban areas, dog urine is one of the leading killers of many species; its not that its inherently bad, its the sheer amount that gets put adjacent to one tree that's the problem.


That exemplifies the urban challenge. How do we let/encourage soil nutrient replenishment, but not overload a single plant with same. (ie, poop and scoop is generally a good idea, the exception is a planting bed might benefit it; but not if everyone lets their pet use the same space. )

Likewise most plants would benefit from decaying plant matter (leaves), but not if you pile them 4ft high.

Mushrooms or their cousins can be great........but you can't have lawns or beds of tulips around the trees, then have mushrooms. You have to decide what you're aiming for.............

All of which can be summed up as, there is lots of room for improvement. But in general, trees would appreciate a friend in their planting bed, and maybe some complimentary understory plants, and would like
their planting beds to go unraked/cleaned; but don't want people adding stuff to them that would not normally be there, or would, but in inordinate quantities.

****

Just to add, there are consequences to doing everything right too, so to speak. That is to say, colonial species may multiply and dominate a planting bed; trees may develop roots that will eventually break down the borders of their beds and may heave sidewalks as well.

That may be a worthwhile price to pay for a healthy urban forest, but may impact on accessibility and maintenance costs.
 
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