Book Review: National Geographic’s “Into the Forest: The Secret Language of Trees” by Susan Tyler Hitchcock


Dr.Seuss’ The Lorax said: “I speak for the trees because the trees have no language.” He wasn’t wrong, trees don’t have the ability to speak a language that we humans understand, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t in constant communication with the world around them. This flora-specific language is part of what Susan Tyler Hitchcock explores in the new National geographic book, In the forest: the secret language of trees.

(National Geographic)

Perfect for earth daychapter titles read like a preview of the super team Captain Planet and the Planeteers – Tree, Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Forest. The introductory chapter covers the mythology of trees and their connection to human cultures and mythology around the world, why humans are “blind to plants”, the history of trees and forests, and the science behind their growth. The second chapter is all about soil; how it was formed, what lives there, why it varies by region and the mysteries that still perplex scientists. The water chapter examines how trees affect one of Earth’s most necessary elements, including a look at the trees that actually help clean up the oceans. This chapter also details the important life-saving properties that humans have discovered from trees. The chapter titled Air not only discusses how trees create oxygen and absorb carbon, but also the importance of the tree canopy and the delicate balance of reproduction, some trees only depend on one or two species of insects to help them survive. “Fire” examines not only the dangers of forest fires, but also how some forests benefit from intentional controlled burns. The final chapter ties together all of the book’s teachings and brings the story back to you, a human being who enjoys the endless benefits of the presence of forests, inspiring you to move forward as stewards of these essential parts of the world. .

Susan Tyler Hitchcock’s passion for the subject is evident on every page. Trees are cool, and she knows how to convey that message in a way that’s fun and engaging for laypeople, never feeling like a science journal, but packed with a wealth of information. It explains all the scientific jargon, some of which you should know (photosynthesis, mitochondria, etc.), and some terms will likely be new to anyone who doesn’t study plants for a living. Throughout the book, you’ll find ancient folk tales about trees and forests, as well as highlights from famous trees (yes, some trees are celebrities).

As you would expect from National Geographic, In the forest: the secret language of trees is also full of stunning, colorful photographs from around the world that support the text. These are often full-page images on glossy pages, some even zooming in on a molecular level to highlight tree cells or the microscopic fungi that help them in the dirt.

Although there may not be a true Lorax who can speak for the trees, reading In the forest: the secret language of trees at least you will know that they are talking to each other. The book redefines the way you think about the plant world, revealing that even though they stay in one place in the ground, they move (a lot!). Most importantly, it’s a reminder that they’re an essential part of Earth’s delicate ecosystem. We need it more than ever and the book urges readers to take the message of The Lorax heart and speak for the trees. Into the Forest: The Secret Language of Trees: Susan Tyler Hitchcock

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