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Science Botany

Finding the Mother Tree

Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

by (author) Suzanne Simard

Publisher
Penguin Group Canada
Initial publish date
May 2021
Category
Botany, Environmental Science, Philosophy & Social Aspects
  • Hardback

    ISBN
    9780735237759
    Publish Date
    May 2021
    List Price
    $34.95
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780735237773
    Publish Date
    Jun 2022
    List Price
    $23.00

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Description

INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
*WINNER of the 2021 Banff Mountain Book Prize in Mountain Environment and Natural History*
*WINNER of the National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature*
*WINNER of the 2022 BC and Yukon Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award*
*SHORTLISTED for the 2022 BC and Yukon Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Book Prize*
*SHORTLISTED for the 2021 Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Book Award*
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.

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, 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.

Now, in her first book, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths—that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

Simard describes up close—in revealing and accessible ways—how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved; how they perceive one another, learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, and remember the past; how they have agency about their future; how they elicit warnings and mount defenses, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication: characteristics previously ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies. And, at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.Simard, born and raised in the rain forests of British Columbia, spent her days as a child cataloging the trees from the forest; she came to love and respect them and embarked on a journey of discovery and struggle. Her powerful story is one of love and loss, of observation and change, of risk and reward. And it is a testament to how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology: it’s about understanding who we are and our place in the world.

In her book, as in her groundbreaking research, Simard proves the true connectedness of the Mother Tree to the forest, nurturing it in the profound ways that families and humansocieties nurture one another, and how these inseparable bonds enable all our survival.

About the author

Awards

  • Short-listed, BC Book Prize's Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize
  • Winner, BC Book Prize's Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award
  • Short-listed, BC Book Prize's Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award
  • Short-listed, BC Book Prize's Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize
  • Winner, National Outdoor Book Award - Natural History Literature
  • Winner, Banff Mountain Book Prize

Contributor Notes

DR. SUZANNE SIMARD is a Professor of Forest Ecology at the University of British Columbia, where she currently leads The Mother Tree Project and co-directs the Belowground Ecosystem Group. Dr. Simard has earned a global reputation for pioneering research on tree connectivity and communication, and studying the impact on the productivity, health, and biodiversity of forests. Her work has been published widely, with over 170 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Nature, Ecology, and Global Biology, and she has co-authored the book Climate Change and Variability. Her research has been communicated broadly through three TED Talks, TED Experiences, as well as articles and interviews in The New Yorker, National Geographic, The Globe and Mail, NPR, CNN, CBC, and many more. She lives with her two adventurous daughters and their wild and crazy extended family in the mountains around Nelson, British Columbia.

Excerpt: Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest (by (author) Suzanne Simard)

1

Ghosts in the Forest

I was alone in grizzly country, freezing in the June snow. Twenty years old and green, I was working a seasonal job for a logging company in the rugged Lillooet Mountain Range of western Canada.

The forest was shadowed and deathly quiet. And from where I stood, full of ghosts. One was floating straight toward me. I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound emerged. My heart lodged in my throat as I tried to summon my rationality—and then I laughed.

The ghost was just heavy fog rolling through, its tendrils encircling the tree trunks. No apparitions, only the solid timbers of my industry. The trees were just trees. And yet Canadian forests always felt haunted to me, especially by my ancestors, the ones who’d defended the land or conquered it, who came to cut, burn, and farm the trees.

It seems the forest always remembers.

Even when we’d like it to forget our transgressions.

It was midafternoon already. Mist crept through the clusters of subalpine firs, coating them with a sheen. Light-refracting droplets held entire worlds. Branches burst with emerald new growth over a fleece of jade needles. Such a marvel, the tenacity of the buds to surge with life every spring, to greet the lengthening days and warming weather with exuberance, no matter what hardships were brought by winter. Buds encoded to unfold with primordial leaves in tune with the fairness of previous summers. I touched some feathery needles, comforted by their softness. Their stomata—the tiny holes that draw in carbon dioxide to join with water to make sugar and pure oxygen—pumped fresh air for me to gulp.

Nestled against the towering, hardworking elders were teenaged saplings, and leaning into them were even younger seedlings, all huddling as families do in the cold. The spires of the wrinkled old firs stretched skyward, sheltering the rest. The way my mother and father, grandmothers and grandfathers protected me. Goodness knows, I’d needed as much care as a seedling, given that I was always getting into trouble. When I was twelve, I’d crawled along a sweeper tree leaning over the Shuswap River to see how far out I could go. I tried to retreat but slipped and fell into the current. Grampa Henry jumped into his hand-built riverboat and grabbed my shirt collar right before I would have disappeared into the rapids.

Snow lay deeper than a grave nine months of the year here in the mountains. The trees far outmatched me, their DNA forged so they’d thrive despite the extremes of an inland climate that would chew me up and spit me out. I tapped a limb of an elder to show gratitude for its hovering over vulnerable offspring and nestled a fallen cone in the crook of a branch.

I pulled my hat over my ears while stepping off the logging road and waded deeper into the forest through the snow. Despite it being only a few hours before darkness, I paused at a log, a casualty of saws that had cleared the road right-of-way. The pale round face of its cut end showed age rings as fine as eyelashes. The blond-colored earlywood, the spring cells plump with water, were edged by dark-brown cells of latewood formed in August when the sun is high and drought settles in. I counted the rings, marking each decade with a pencil—the tree was a couple hundred years old. Over twice the number of years my own family had lived in these forests. How had the trees weathered the changing cycles of growth and dormancy, and how did this compare to the joys and hardships my family had endured in a fraction of the time? Some rings were wider, having grown plenty in rainy years, or perhaps in sunny years after a neighboring tree blew over, and others were almost too narrow to see, having grown slowly during a drought, a cold summer, or some other stress. These trees persisted through climatic upheavals, suffocating competition, and ravaging fire, insect, or wind disruptions, far eclipsing the colonialism, world wars, and the dozen or so prime ministers my family had lived through. They were ancestors to my ancestors.

A chattering squirrel ran along the log, warning me away from his cache of seeds at the base of the stump. I was the first woman to work for the logging company, an outfit that was part of a rough, dangerous business starting to open its doors to the occasional female student. The first day on the job, a few weeks back, I’d visited a clear-cut—a complete felling of trees in a thirty-hectare patch—with my boss, Ted, to check that some new seedlings had been planted according to government rules. He knew how a tree should and should not be planted, and his low-key approach kept workers going through their exhaustion. Ted had been patient with my embarrassment at not knowing a J-root from a deep plug, but I’d watched and listened. Soon enough, I was entrusted with the job of assessing established plantations—seedlings put in to replace harvested trees. I wasn’t about to screw up.

Today’s plantation awaited me beyond this old forest. The company had chopped down a large parcel of velvety old subalpine firs and planted prickly needled spruce seedlings this last spring. My task was to check the progress of those new growths. I hadn’t been able to take the logging road into the clear-cut because it had been washed out—a gift, since I could detour past these mist-wrapped beauties, but I stopped at a massive pile of fresh grizzly scat.

Fog still draped the trees, and I could have sworn something was sliding along in the distance. I looked harder. It was the pale green trusses of the lichen called old man’s beard because of the way it sways from branches. Old lichen that particularly thrived on old trees. I plunged the button on my air horn to warn off the specter of bears. I’d inherited my fear of them from my mother, who was a child when her grandfather, my great-grampa Charles Ferguson, shot and killed one that was inches from mauling her on the porch. Great-Grampa Charles was a turn-of-the-twentieth-century pioneer in Edgewood, an outpost in the Inonoaklin Valley along the Arrow Lakes of the Columbia basin in British Columbia. With axes and horses, he and his wife, Ellen, cleared the Sinixt Nation land they had homesteaded to grow hay and tend cattle. Charles was known to wrestle with bears and shoot wolves that tried to kill his chickens. He and Ellen raised three children: Ivis, Gerald, and my grandmother Winnie.

I crawled over logs covered with moss and mushrooms, inhaling the evergreen mist. One had a river of tiny Mycena mushrooms flowing along the cracks down its length before fanning along a splay of tree roots that dwindled to rotten spindles. I’d been puzzling over what roots and fungi had to do with the health of forests—the harmony of things large and small, including concealed and overlooked elements. My fascination with tree roots had started from my growing up amazed at the irrepressible power of the cottonwoods and willows my parents had planted in our backyard when their massive roots cracked the foundation of our basement, tilted over the doghouse, and heaved up our sidewalk. Mum and Dad fell into worried discussions of what to do with the problem they’d unwittingly created in our little plot of land in trying to reconstruct the feel of trees surrounding their own childhood homes. I’d watched in awe each spring as a multitude of germinants emerged from cottony seeds amid halos of mushrooms fanning around the base of the trees, and I’d become horrified, at eleven, when the city ran a pipeline spewing foamy water into the river beside my house, where the effluent killed the cottonwoods along the shore. First the tops of the crowns thinned, then black cankers appeared around the furrowed trunks, and by the next spring the great trees were dead. No new germinants got established among the yellow outflow. I wrote to the mayor, and my letter went unanswered.

I picked one of the tiny mushrooms. The bell-shaped elf caps of the Mycena were dark brown at the apex and faded into translucent yellow at the margins, revealing gills underneath and a fragile stem. The stipes—stems—were rooted in the furrows of the bark, helping the log decay. These mushrooms were so delicate it seemed impossible they could decompose a whole log. But I knew they could. Those dead cottonwoods along the riverbank in my childhood had fallen and sprouted mushrooms along their thin, cracking skin. Within a few years, the spongy fibers of decayed wood had completely disappeared into the ground. These fungi had evolved a way to break down wood by exuding acids and enzymes and using their cells to absorb the wood’s energy and nutrients. I launched off the log, landed with my caulk spikes in the duff, and grabbed clumps of fir saplings to leverage myself up the slope. The saplings had found a spot to capture a balance between the light of the sun and the wetness of the snowmelt.

A Suillus mushroom—tucked near a seedling that had established a few years back—was wearing a scaly brown pancake cap over a yellow porous underbelly and a fleshy stem that disappeared into the ground. In a burst of rain, the mushroom had sprung out of the dense network of branching fungal threads running deep through the forest floor. Like a strawberry fruiting from its vast, intricate system of roots and runners. With a boost of energy from the earthen threads, the fungal cap had unfurled like an umbrella, leaving traces of a lacy veil hugging the brown-spotted stem about halfway up. I picked the mushroom, this fruit of the fungus that otherwise lived mainly belowground. The cap’s underside was like a sundial of radiating pores. Each oval-shaped opening housed minuscule stalks built to discharge spores like sparks from a firecracker. Spores are the “seeds” of fungi, full of DNA that binds, recombines, and mutates to produce novel genetic material that is diverse and adapted for changing environmental conditions. Sprinkled around the colorful cavity left by the picking was a halo of cinnamon-brown spores. Other spores would have caught an updraft, latched on to the legs of a flying insect, or become the dinner of a squirrel.

Extending downward in the tiny crater still holding the remains of the mushroom’s stem were fine yellow threads, the strands braiding into an intricately branching veil of fungal mycelium, the network that blankets the billions of organic and mineral particles making up the soil. The stem bore broken threads that had been part of this web before I ungraciously ripped it from its moorings. The mushroom is the visible tip of something deep and elaborate, like a thick lace tablecloth knitted into the forest floor. The threads left behind were fanning through the litter—fallen needles, buds, twigs—searching for, entwining with, and absorbing mineral riches. I wondered whether this Suillus mushroom might be a type of decay fungus like the Mycenas, a rotter of wood and litter, or if it had some other role. I stuck it into my pocket along with the Mycena.

The clear-cut where the seedlings replaced the chopped-down trees was still not visible. Dark clouds were gathering, and I pulled my yellow rain jacket out of my vest. It was worn from bushwhacking and not as waterproof as it should have been. Each step farther from the truck added to an aura of danger and my foreboding that I wouldn’t be on the road by nightfall. But I’d inherited an instinct for pushing through hardship from Grannie Winnie, a teenager when her mother, Ellen, succumbed to the flu in the early 1930s. The family was snowed in and bedridden, with Ellen dead in her room, when the neighbors finally broke through the frozen valley and chest-deep snow to check on the Ferguson clan.

My boot slipped, and I grabbed a sapling, which came loose in my hand as I tumbled down the pitch, flattening other saplings before coming to rest against a sodden log, still clutching the octopus of jagged roots. The young tree looked to be a teenager, the whorls of lateral branches demarcating each year adding up to about fifteen. A rain cloud started to spit, soaking my jeans. Drops beaded on the oilskin of my scruffy jacket.

There was no room for weakness on this job, and I’d cultivated a tough exterior in a boy’s world for as long as I could remember. I wanted to be as good as my younger brother, Kelly, and the ones who had Québécois names like Leblanc and Gagnon and Tremblay, so I learned to play street ice hockey with the neighborhood gang when the temperature was minus twenty. I played goalie, the least coveted position. They took hard shots at my knees, but I kept my black-and-blue legs concealed under my jeans. The way Grannie Winnie kept on as best she could, resuming her job of galloping her horse through the Inonoaklin Valley, delivering mail and flour to the homesteads, soon after her mother died.

I stared at the clump of roots in my fist. Clinging to them was glistening humus that reminded me of chicken manure. Humus is the greasy black rot in the forest floor sandwiched between the fresh litter from fallen needles and dying plants above and the mineral soil weathered from bedrock below. Humus is the product of plant decay. It’s where the dead plants and bugs and voles are buried. Nature’s compost. Trees love to root in the humus, not so much above or below it, because there they can access the bounty of nutrients.

But these root tips were glowing yellow, like lights on a Christmas tree, and they ended in a gossamer of mycelium of the same color. The threads of this streaming mycelium looked close to the same color as those radiating into the soil from the stems of the Suillus mushrooms, and from my pocket I took out the one I’d picked. I held the clump of root tips with its cascading yellow gossamer in one hand and the Suillus mushroom with its broken mycelium in the other. I studied them closely, but I could not tell them apart.

Maybe Suillus was a friend of the roots, not a decomposer of dead things as Mycena was? My instinct has always been to listen to what living things are saying. We think that most important clues are large, but the world loves to remind us that they can be beautifully small. I began to dig into the forest floor. The yellow mycelium seemed to coat every minuscule particle of soil. Hundreds of miles of threads running under my palms. No matter the lifestyle, these fungal branching filaments, called hyphae—along with the mushroom fruit they spawned—appeared to be only a smattering of the vast mycelium in the soil.

Editorial Reviews

*WINNER of the 2021 Banff Mountain Book Prize in Mountain Environment and Natural History*
*WINNER of the National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature*
*WINNER of the 2022 BC and Yukon Bill Duthie Booksellers’ Choice Award*
*SHORTLISTED for the 2022 BC and Yukon Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Book Prize*
*SHORTLISTED for the 2021 Science Writers and Communicators of Canada Book Award*
INSTANT NATIONAL BESTSELLER
Praise for Finding the Mother Tree:
One of:
Vogue's "13 Books to Help You Reconnect with Nature"
Electric Lit’s “7 Books by Women Writers About Humanity’s Relationship to Trees”

“Simard has spent decades with her hands in the soil, designing experiments and piecing together the remarkable mysteries of forest ecology . . . elegantly detailed . . . deeply personal . . . A testament to Simard’s skill as a science communicator. Her research is clearly defined, the steps of her experiments articulated, her astonishing results explained and the implications laid bare: We ignore the complexity of forests at our peril.”
The New York Times

“Simard’s memoir describes the intersecting webs of her career and private life that brought her to rewrite not only the forestry canon but our understanding of nature itself. She is an intellectual force whose powerful ideas overshadow her name . . . Like Charles Darwin’s findings, Simard’s results are so revolutionary and controversial that they have quickly worked their way into social theory, urban planning, culture and art. Simard’s work knocked 19th-century notions of inevitable competition off their pedestals. If a forest is a commons where the fate of the weakest is tied to that of the strongest, then we have a lot of rethinking to do.”
The Washington Post

“Extraordinary.”
BBC Wildlife Magazine

“[Simard] shares the wisdom of a life of listening to the forest . . . a scientific memoir as gripping as any HBO drama series.”
The Observer

“A powerful and personal meditation on nature, science and our interconnection with each other and the world around us."
—Toronto Star

“Galvanizing . . . As Simard elucidates her revolutionary experiments, replete with
gorgeous descriptions and moments of fear and wonder, a vision of the forest as an ‘intelligent, perceptive and responsive,’ comes into focus . . . A masterwork of planetary significance.”
Booklist (starred review)

“Simard artfully blends science with memoir in her eye-opening debut on the ‘startling secrets’ of trees . . . As moving as it is educational, this groundbreaking work entrances.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Simard tells the fascinating story that led Richard Powers to base a character on her in his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Overstory . . . intimate . . . absorbing . . . engaging . . . the science is solid, and the author’s overarching theme of stewardship is clear, understandable, and necessary.”
Kirkus

“I can't think of a book on nature and science that I am more eagerly looking forward to reading. Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence, and this book promises to change our understanding about what is really going on when a tree falls in the forest, and other pressing mysteries about the natural world.”
Michael Pollan, New York Times bestselling author of eight books, including The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Botany of Desire

"Vivid and inspiring . . . For Simard, personal experience leads to revelation, and scientific revelation leads to personal insight . . . Finding the Mother Tree helps make sense of a forest of mysteries. It might even persuade you that organisms other than ourselves—even fungi—have agency.”
The Wall Street Journal

“In Finding the Mother Tree, Suzanne Simard demonstrates how storytelling can ignite something science alone cannot . . . therein lies the magic of this book. This is science in action, from beginning to end, and so much more than a study published in a journal . . . Finding the Mother Tree is the kind of story we need to be telling, a new way of communicating that the world desperately needs to hear. "
—The Guardian

“Vital for our times . . . With biodiversity on a knife edge, the need to appreciate and understand the complexity and brilliance of the natural world could not be more important."
—Financial Times

“Finding the Mother Tree is a rare and moving book - part charming memoir, part crash course in forest ecology. And yet, it manages to be about the things that matter most: the ways we care for each other, fail each other and listen to each other. After the last year and a half, its lessons about motherhood, connection and the natural world are more timely than ever.”
—Jake Gyllenhaal

“[Finding the Mother Tree] excited us with a narrative about the awe-invoking power of nature and the compelling parallels in Suzanne’s personal life. It forever transformed our views of the world and the interconnectivity of our environment. Finding the Mother Tree is not only a deeply beautiful memoir about one woman’s impactful life, it’s also a call to action to protect, understand and connect with the natural world.”
—Amy Adams and Bond Group co-founder Stacy O’Neil

“In [Finding Mother Tree], [Simard] invites us into her world, which is the world of trees. What she has discovered there is revolutionary on both the scientific and the spiritual level. It is so extraordinary that it is, frankly, hard to believe—until you see the data, the science, the rigor, and the many independent affirmations of her findings. . . . The future of this planet depends on our ability to understand Nature and integrate what she is telling us; Simard is one of her most insightful and eloquent translators.”
—John Vaillant, bestselling author and winner of the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction (Canada) for The Golden Spruce, The Tiger, and Jaguar’s Children
“[Finding the Mother Tree] offers a chance for readers to get to know her more intimately—her insights, her humor, her struggles, her determination. It's an inspiring story of how a child in love with the woods became a world-renowned scientist discovering their secrets—and perhaps saving them in the process.”
Kristin Ohlson, New York Times estselling author of six books, including The Soil Will Save Us, Stalking the Divine, Kabul Beauty School, and Life as We Know It

“Suzanne Simard's research into the secret, communicative life of North American forests is utterly compelling. No one knows trees, from canopy to root tips, quite like she does.”
—Charlotte Gill, winner of the Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize for Eating Dirt and of the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize for Ladykiller

“The science is solid. . . clear, understandable, and necessary."
—Kirkus

“Suzanne Simard elegantly dispels the lingering myth that scientists are unfeeling robots, mindlessly reducing complexity into digestible units of information. She does this effectively by telling the stories of her life, and she shows us how personal experiences can drive discovery and understanding. As a highly respected scientist who has forever changed how people view forests, I can think of no one better suited to bring more humanity into the process of science.”
—JC Cahill, Professor of Plant Ecology at University of Alberta, and author of bestselling University ecology textbook Ecology: Concepts and Applications

“Every once in a while a scientist comes along who can convey complex, technical ideas in a way that is both dazzling and profound. Suzanne Simard is such a one. . . . It is she who came up with the phrase, Wood Wide Web. It introduces new notions of symbiosis and co-evolution, communication and kin, notions that upend our definition of sentience. . . . Finding the Mother Tree taps into [a large] audience, of people moved by the idea that other organisms besides us are conscious, that the planet is a connected ecosystem, that salvation can be found in nature.”
—Eugenia Bone, author of six books, including At Mesa’s Edge, Italian Family Dining, Mycophilia: Revelations from the Weird World of Mushrooms, and Microbia: A Journey into the Unseen World Around You

“Dr. Suzanne Simard is a world-leading scientist who has developed a strong, well-recognized research program at UBC. In addition, one of her strengths is communicating her work to a broader audience. She is able to ‘escape from the ivory tower’ and share her passion and scientific results with the general public and laypersons. Her scientific work provides her a great story to share, and I believe the time is ripe for this story.
Klaus Puettmann, author of A Critique of Silviculture and Managing Forests as Complex Adaptive Systems

“In Finding the Mother Tree, pioneering researcher Suzanne Simard describes how her appreciation and understanding of forests developed. She vividly links her childhood experiences in the mountains of British Columbia, her early work in forest management, and her personal hardships to the scientific discoveries that have forever changed the way we view forests. The stories she tells, and the insights she draws from them, will inspire readers and change the way they think about the world around them.
—Catherine Gehring, Professor of Biology at Northern Arizona University
Author of Mycorrhizal Mediation of Soil–Fertility, Structure, and Carbon Storage

“Suzanne Simard’s Finding the Mother Tree reminds us that the world is a web of stories, connecting us to one another. Her vivid manuscript carries the stories of trees, fungi, soil and bears—and of a human being listening in on the conversation. The interplay of personal narrative, scientific insights, and the amazing revelations about the life of the forest make a compelling story. . . . I have great admiration for her science and her storytelling alike. These are stories that the world needs to hear.”
—Robin Wall Kimmerer, Director of SUNY-ESF Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, and winner of both the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award for Braiding Sweetgrass and the John Burroughs Medal Award for Gathering Moss

“This book will have profound implications for our human relationships with the natural world. . . . [T]he insights presented by Dr. Simard point towards a complete paradigm shift in the ways we humans interact with forests, trees, and other species. . . . Finding the Mother Tree will be a celebration of this realization, and a key milestone in humanity’s journey towards reconciliation, with Indigenous Peoples and with Nature.”
—Nancy Jean Turner, Professor of Ethnobotany at the University of Victoria, author of four books including Earth’s Blanket, admitted to the Order of British Columbia and winner of Canadian Botanical Association Lawson Medal
“This is a great read. Dr. Simard opens up her heart and soul as she shares her scientific journey.. The book has elements of both E.O. Wilson’s Naturalist, covering his development as a scientist, and Wild by Cheryl Strayed, who pushed through personal issues and found answers in Nature. For anyone who simply enjoys a walk in the woods and wonders what makes the forest work.”
—Thomas R. Horton, Professor, Mycology State University of New York, Syracuse Dept. of Environmental and Forest Biology

“To read Finding the Mother Tree is to imagine the view from a 250-foot redwood. The recognition that we’re all connected is one of the great gifts of the memoir. From such a view, it’s possible to feel part of the whole—a feeling we’re only now starting to recognize as our natural state.”
Los Angeles Times
"Finding the Mother Tree is a passionate and instructive ecological memoir with much good honest dirt under its fingernails. Simard can look at soil the way an art historian looks at an Old Master. . .”
Geographical (UK)

“Simard creates her own complex network in [Finding the Mother Tree], by weaving the story of [her] discoveries with vignettes from her past. . . . Moving through life’s highs and lows with her is rewarding because of these resonances, and because she comes across as the kind of person who usually doesn’t write memoirs—shy and occasionally fearful, always earnest. It feels like a privilege to be let into her life.”
Nature magazine
“The moving and remarkable story of one of the greatest ecological discoveries of our time. Writing with humility and passion, Suzanne Simard's unravelling of the secret life of trees is changing the scientific mindset. Finding the Mother Tree is a crucial step towards healing our planet.”
—Isabella Tree, author of Wilding and The Living Goddess

“I loved Finding the Mother Tree. . . . [Suzanne Simard] was a keen observer who discovered that there are complex interactions between soil fungi and different species of trees. . . . Science will eventually prove that Simard was right.”
—Temple Grandin, The New York Times

“In Finding the Mother Tree, science and personal experience are inextricably linked, as densely interwoven as the underground networks that knit forests together—all of it rendered in elegant and thoughtful prose. Simard’s book is as sturdy, impressive and beautiful as a big red cedar.”
—The Tyee

“Suzanne Simard’s Finding the Mother Tree is a marriage of rigorous science with empathic love and gut instinct. Simard was the woman whose work led to the coining of the phrase wood-wide web. You will never look at a forest in the same way again.”
—The Irish Times

“Few researchers have had the pop culture impact of Suzanne Simard.”
― Scientific American

“Finding the Mother Tree is essential reading. Suzanne Simard is a gentle voice of reason and experience. She has lived this book, not just written down what she has studied from afar. Her experimental life is inspirational. . . . In writing Finding the Mother Tree, Simard shows us that we might become more like trees, that we might survive our own mess-making and brokenness, that we have the innate capacity to become beneficial parts in the whole that is life.”
—Resilience
“[Finding the Mother Tree] is a sweaty, dangerous, and highly unique personal story that has captivated creative minds around the world. . . . [A] gripping memoir.”
The New Statesman

“[A] compelling read.”
The Peterborough Examiner
“[I]f you’ve ever read . . . Suzanne Simard’s Finding the Mother Tree, you will never look at trees and forests the same way.”
―The Record
“With this book, you’ll get a whole new appreciation for what trees can do.”
—Book Riot

“[Simard] weaves her life story into the story of her science. . . . [Her] groundbreaking research has inspired many others, not just scientists, but also artists such as director James Cameron and his movie, Avatar.”
—Electric Lit

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