How Trees Talk

Music theater for children

There is a lot going on in the forests that we can’t see:

There is the mother tree, the relatives and the child. But there are also insects and other living things that communicate with each other. "How Trees Talk" tells in a simple way what happens in the forest. Live instrumental music, puppetry and real-time drawings underscore that trees are not dumb, lonely beings. In the forest they have friends and business partners, family members and enemies.

Michaela Bartoňová (visual artist)

Ralf Lücke (puppetier and actor)


Christian Klinkenberg


Franck Hemmerle (drums)

Alisa Klein (trombone)

Vedran Mutić (double bass)

Christian Klinkenberg (piano)

Ecologist Suzanne Simard says trees have a sophisticated and interconnected social network existing underground.

Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery: trees talk, communicating often and over vast distances. Trees are much more like us humans that you may think. They are extremely social and depend on each other for their survival. Communication is vital, and a massive web of hair-like mushroom roots transmit secret messages between trees, triggering them to share nutrients and water with those in need.

Suzanne grew up in the magnificent forests of British Columbia. She shares how she’d lie down on the forest floor and stare up at the crowns of the giant trees. An accident with her dog who fell into their forest outhouse and had to be dug out, led her to discover the incredible underground root and mycelial network she would later research. When she returned to the study of trees later in life, she learnt how scientists had just discovered in the laboratory, that one pine seedling root could transmit carbon to another pine seedling root.

This insight spurred her on to study real forests to see what happens there. Her idea that trees could share information underground was controversial and many of her colleagues thought she was crazy. Difficulties in securing research funding led her to conduct her own experiments and so she planted 240 birch, fir and cedar trees in a Canadian forest. She hypothesized that the birch and firs would be connected in their own underground web, but not the cedar. Undeterred by bears, she covered the seedlings with plastic bags, filling them with various types of carbon gas. She injected a radioactive gas into the birch, and then a stable carbon dioxide gas into the fir.

When she ran a Geiger counter over the trees, she discovered silence from the cedar, and a loud sound of communication between the fir and birch trees who were sharing carbon with each other. She discovered birch sent carbon to fir, especially when it was shaded. Later the opposite happened, when the birch was leafless in the winter, the fir sent over more carbon. Science had always believed that trees competed with each other for carbon, sunlight, water and nutrients.

Simard’s groundbreaking work showed that trees are interdependent and cooperative, in fact they are immersed in deep relationships with each other...