Readers who pick up The Power of Trees, by conservation rock star Gretchen C. Daily and photographer Chuck Katz, are amazed by the life-changing details about trees—things they never knew—that make them take a moment to appreciate the natural world around them. We asked our intern, Victoria Mitchell, to extract Ten Rings of Wisdom that moved her from The Power of Trees.
One. Trees seem so still, yet they are among the greatest life forces of movement on Earth.
Two. Fundamentally, we are indeed all of the same cloth, and the very constituents of our own bodies have likely resided in forests for many periods of time.
Three. Some trees clearly can talk to one another—when attacked, certain trees emit airborne chemicals that signal trouble to downwind trees, which in turn boost their own chemical defenses.
Four. Heartwood is the central supporting pillar of the tree, and in some species it is as strong as steel.
Five. After trees, Earth waited 165 million years before the first mammals appeared, and another 145 million years before the first monkeylike creatures swung from branch to branch in treetops.
Six. Trees are the longest lived organisms on Earth, some even germinating back when humanity was inventing writing, about 5,000 years ago.
Seven. Living in trees for 80 million years or so, our ancestors acquired exceptional hand-eye coordination and dexterity.
Eight. Trees fueled human discovery. By supplying the wood for primitive stoves, trees may have powered the evolution of large, calorie-hungry hominid brains. Later, the Age of Discovery was launched with fine-timbered ships that opened vast frontiers of knowledge and global exchange.
Nine. A famous study found that patients with trees outside their hospital windows recovered from surgery more quickly than patients whose windows looked out on brick walls.
Ten. Whether living as great wild expanses or as ribbons and dots of connection and texture in human landscapes, trees define our lives and the future of humanity.