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The Wood Wide Web

Deep beneath the forest ground, trees are connected to their own underground interweb, made of symbiotic fungi called mycorrhiza. Trees can send messages back and forth from tree to tree through the mycorrhiza fungi. In return for their service, the fungi receive sugars from the trees. This network has been dubbed the Wood Wide Web. 

Suzanne Simard is the scientist who made the discovery. She found that when trees fall sick or are under attack, they send signals through the mycorrhiza. If a tree needs nitrogen, a healthier tree can send some to the one in need. When older trees die, they send their nutrients back into the ecosystem to make the forest trees in their community healthier. 

Suzanne discovered that trees recognize their family. A mother tree will send nutrients to her children before other sick trees in the forest. She also found that different types of trees like the Fir and Birch support each other. 

But not all messages sent are helpful. Some trees, like the Black Walnut, use the mycorrhiza to spread poisons, killing other trees and taking over the forest. 

This topic of Wood Wide Web was brought up in one of my artist communities. The story made me wonder about my own communities. I wondered how we can help each other thrive, and what strategies we might employ to protect from the ‘Black Walnut’ of unhelpful criticism.

Do you have any advice to offer?

Hi I’m Jamuna Burry.
365 DAYS is my personal practice of shipping words and images.

Jamuna Burry

Exploring ideas on creativity through digital art.