Book Review- The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate is the first book in the German forester Peter Wohlleben’s three part series investigating the wonders of nature. Peter Wohlleben spent over twenty years working for the forestry commission in Germany before leaving to put his ideas into practice. He now manages a woodland in Hummel, Germany, where he is working for the return of primeval forests. This book is the result of his many years of research, findings and most importantly –  patience.  It was gifted to me by my friend Shashank Jain on my birthday last month so – Ghamsahabnida, Shashank!

This book is an wonderfully written account which portrays the lesser-known life of trees which live in a dynamic relationship with each other and other species of animals, microorganisms and insects around them. We get to know how these sessile beings have their own sense of time, sense of smell, how they defend themselves against insect and herbivore invaders, how they alert other trees around them of these unwelcome invaders among other things; but in a way different from humans and animals. The author describes the otherwise complex activities that trees perform in a simple and easy to understand manner without using much technical jargon.

Originally, it was published in German in 2015. The translation is well done and many of the original German sayings in the book have been retained. All the examples that the author takes and the explanations are based on forests and tree species endemic to Central Europe and sometimes USA. An introduction to the book is given by Pradip Krishen, another author of books about trees, which is basically his own review of the book.

The style of the book is repetitive, but in a good way. The author conveniently explains some process or phenomenon which was mentioned earlier, again, which I felt was a good decision – it reminds the reader and maintain continuity in reading. It is divided into 36 chapters with each chapter describing some aspect of tree life. Although most chapters made for a great read, a few of them were somewhat boring and I ended up rushing through the paragraphs.

Reading this book will enlighten you about facts related to trees that you may never have imagined! Ever wondered why some trees remain stubbornly green while others change their leaf colour to autumn colours when fall season arrives- even when the trees are located in the same region? Do trees feel anything when a moth takes a hearty bite out of its leaves? How do trees protect themselves from natural phenomenon like thunder, heavy rainfall and pest invasion? All and more of such questions are promptly answered in this book. It was really an eye-opener for me and I think when I find myself in a grove or forest the next time, I will look at all those majestic trees through a completely different lens 😀


Have you read this book or any other similar books? What do you think about it? Let me know in the comments below. Xia ci zai jian!

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