Trees that could whisper, talk to each other. Even move.
– Meriadoc Brandybuck, LOTR
Merry hits close to the mark. Except for the moving part . . . maybe. Trees play a big role in the fantasy genre, even if they don’t all talk. From tree-dwelling elves to tree-healing wizards, trees either serve as the backdrop or the center of hundreds of stories. But talking trees aren’t entirely the construct of fantasy worlds. Trees do, in reality, whisper and talk through the mycorrhizal network.
Without getting too technical (you can find a basic explanation here) they transmit messages through fungi connected to their root systems. They send warnings to neighboring forests when nutrients are low, or infestations are spreading. They even fancy species similar to their own. Like tree cliques.
Trees of varying ages make up forests, both ents and entlings you might say. The oldest trees are called “ mother trees.” These matriarchs scuttle off the fungi to the younger trees so they are connected to the network. (Are you thinking “ Borg” too?) It’s fantasy and science fiction combined!
So the next time you are strolling through the woods and you think you hear a whispered chatter, it might not be your imagination. Or you find a gathering of seedlings beneath a giant oak, you can be assured the oak is seeing to it the new sprouts are healthy. We haven’t always been kind to our forests, but it seems they’ve been given a means to take care of their own.
In the book Portal Slayer: Path of Deceit the forest of Alnok has been corrupted. Most avoid the nearby land altogether. You can find out how the forest weaves into the story here.
QOTD: What’s your favorite fantasy forest or tree? Leave your answer in the comments.
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