In a lofty TED-Ed lesson written by forestry experts Suzanne Simmard and Camille Defrenne and animated by Avi Ofer, narrator Bethany Cutmore-Scott explains how trees communicate with one another using a third party system of symbiotic fungi.
The secret to their success lies under the forest floor, where vast root systems support the towering trunks above. Partnering with these roots are symbiotic fungi called mycorrhizae. These fungi have countless branching, thread-like hyphae that together make up the mycelium. The mycelium spreads across a much larger area than the tree root system and connects the roots of different trees together. These connections form mycorrhizal networks. Through mycorrhizal networks, fungi can pass resources and signaling molecules between trees.