The Hidden Life of Trees

The Hidden Life of Trees

What They Feel, How They Communicate : Discoveries From A Secret World

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
Rate this:


With more than 2 million copies sold worldwide, this beautifully-written book journeys deep into the forest to uncover the fascinating--and surprisingly moving--hidden life of trees.

"At once romantic and scientific, [Wohlleben's] view of the forest calls on us all to reevaluate our relationships with the plant world."?Daniel Chamovitz, PhD, author of What a Plant Knows

Are trees social beings? In The Hidden Life of Trees forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in his woodland.

After learning about the complex life of trees, a walk in the woods will never be the same again.

Includes a Note From a Forest Scientist, by Dr.Suzanne Simard

Published in Partnership with the David Suzuki Institute

Publisher: Vancouver :, David Suzuki Institute :, Greystone Books,, [2016]
Copyright Date: ♭2016
ISBN: 9781771642484
Characteristics: xv, 272 pages :,illustrations


From Library Staff

SPL_Brittany Sep 28, 2017

A magical book that mixes storytelling and fact seamlessly. Wohllhben writes a book that reflects his wonder and awe of the natural world and his passion for forests and the trees that comprise them with immense detail. For someone whose background is not in this field, I found this to be an incr... Read More »

A best seller enjoyed by those who like reading about science and nature.

SPL_Shauna Nov 22, 2016

For any readers of science writing who want a bit more magic in their world, this book is just the thing. The author's deep love for forests drives him to seek the truly weird science allowing trees to survive and thrive in communities. Written with tenderness and a joy in discovery, this book is... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Nov 06, 2020

What a wonderful book! 5 stats are not enough!
It has been slow reading, because every page is full of information and I keep going back and re-reading.
I feel like the author is talking to me, telling me this wonderful story. The author has more books of the same, on plants, animals and the weather.

Aug 29, 2020

Narrative style scientific information all about trees (including species, how/where they grow, what helps/harms them). Translated from German, author‘s humour and passion still evident. Book itself beautiful hardcover, good font and paper.

Aug 28, 2020

Loved this book, but then I love trees. Easy to read with lots of information.

May 20, 2020

An interesting concept and analogy to the human life cycle and emotions, but got a bit too detailed and pedantic for me.

LPL_ShirleyB Apr 30, 2020

While grounded in the author’s German forest, everyone who aspires to become more familiar with local natural habitats will benefit reading this accessible science writing. And gain a wider perspective beyond our human-centric view of the Earth—to think of ecological interdependence in centuries-long-lived tree time.

Even though anthropomorphizing appears throughout, it’s quite appropriate to illuminate our understanding and reconnect us to this hugely important realm of our planet! Fascinating information, based on scientific research, reveals trees are social and much like ants & bees, they nurture their family members. Trees can even count, learn and remember.

Selected quotes:
“There are more life forms in a handful of forest soil than there are people on the planet. A mere teaspoonful contains many miles of fungal filaments. All these work the soil, transform it, and make it so valuable for the trees.”

“One of the oldest trees on Earth, a spruce in Sweden, is more than 9,500 years old. That’s 115 times longer than the average human lifetime.”

“In the case of trees, being old doesn't mean being weak, bowed, and fragile. Quite the opposite, it means being full of energy and highly productive. This means elders are markedly more productive than young whippersnappers, and when it comes to climate change, they are important allies for human beings.”

Mar 09, 2020

Another tale of what happens when you put a dollar sign on nature. Ignore Mother Nature at your own peril.

Jan 16, 2020

Groundbreaking works often receive a polarized response, as here. Though if you are ready for it, the author's observations are stunning.

Dec 06, 2019

Author humanizes trees. As if humans are the center of the universe. Takes tiny pieces of a fascinating subject and makes no real sense of it. Not worth reading.

Nov 17, 2019

Interesting, but a lot of junk science in it.

Sep 24, 2019

What a wonderful book. Loved every page of it.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Dec 06, 2019

From Ch 8 Tree School, p. 44, 45
...In the years to come, the spruce will try to repair the wound, but the tear keeps reopening. From some distance away, you can see a black channel streaked with pitch that bears witness to this painful process.
And with that, we have arrived at the heart of tree school. Unfortunately, this is a place where a certain amount of physical punishment is still the order of the day, for Nature is a strict teacher. If a tree does not pay attention and do what it's told, it will suffer...From then on, it will do a better job of rationing water instead of pumping whatever is available out of the ground as soon as spring hits without giving a second thought to waste. The tree takes the lesson to heart, and from then on it will stick with this new, thrifty behavior, even when the ground has plenty of moisture-after all, you never know!

Jul 18, 2017

Whether they are thick or thin, all members of the same species are using light to produce the same amount of sugar per leaf. This equalization is taking place underground through the roots. There's obviously a lively exchange going on down there. Whoever has an abundance of sugar hands some over; whoever is running short gets help. Once again, fungi are involved. Their enormous networks act as gigantic redistribution mechanisms. It's a bit like the way social security systems operate to ensure individual members of society don't fall too far behind. p.15-6


Add a Summary
Feb 23, 2017

I had to wait for a long time for this book, so I felt a little compelled to read the whole thing. I didn't though; certainly no reflection on its value, but rather on my interest in the subject. It was written by a man who obviously knows a great deal and cares deeply about trees and forests. He delivered information in an anthropomorphic manner, talking about trees taking care of their offspring, warning other trees about predators, being lonely if they are the only one of their kind, etc. The approach was very charming and I was amazed at their communication with each other and social interdependency. Nevertheless, I gave myself permission to close the book about half way through. Maybe because the idea that trees are living beings, sentient in their own way, was not alien to me in the first place. Maybe because there are a number of other books on my shelf that I am eager to get into.

So, I did go back and finish it. My ultimate assessment is that there is much scientific information about trees -- too much for me to remember. What I took away is the trees are not that different from animals (and humans).

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings

No similar edition of this title was found at VPL.

Try searching for The Hidden Life of Trees to see if VPL owns related versions of the work.

Suggest for Purchase

To Top