• Finding the Mother Tree

  • Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest
  • By: Suzanne Simard
  • Narrated by: Suzanne Simard
  • Length: 12 hrs and 13 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (919 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • From the world's leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest—a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery

Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

In this, her first book, now available in audio, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths—that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own. 

Simard writes—in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways—how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies—and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them. 

And Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world.

©2021 Suzanne Simard (P)2021 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

2022, BC Book Prize's Bill Duthie Booksellers' Choice Award

2022, BC Book Prize's Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize

2021, Banff Mountain Book Prize

“Simard has spent decades with her hands in the soil, designing experiments and piecing together the remarkable mysteries of forest ecology . . . elegantly detailed . . . deeply personal . . . A testament to Simard’s skill as a science communicator. Her research is clearly defined, the steps of her experiments articulated, her astonishing results explained and the implications laid bare: We ignore the complexity of forests at our peril.” The New York Times

“Simard’s memoir describes the intersecting webs of her career and private life that brought her to rewrite not only the forestry canon but our understanding of nature itself. She is an intellectual force whose powerful ideas overshadow her name . . . Like Charles Darwin’s findings, Simard’s results are so revolutionary and controversial that they have quickly worked their way into social theory, urban planning, culture and art. Simard’s work knocked 19th-century notions of inevitable competition off their pedestals. If a forest is a commons where the fate of the weakest is tied to that of the strongest, then we have a lot of rethinking to do.” The Washington Post

“Simard creates her own complex network in [Finding the Mother Tree], by weaving the story of [her] discoveries with vignettes from her past. . . . Moving through life’s highs and lows with her is rewarding because of these resonances, and because she comes across as the kind of person who usually doesn’t write memoirs—shy and occasionally fearful, always earnest. It feels like a privilege to be let into her life.” Nature magazine 

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Couldn't finish, will try the hard copy

The premise of this book is interesting, but the narration (by the author) is in my opinion almost unlistenable. I have no doubt that this is a great book about communication between trees and how fungi play a role in this, and the science behind it. However, I couldn't keep listening because the author has no voice for narration, stumbles over and mispronounces words. I would like to find an audio copy done by a professional reader.

26 people found this helpful

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Beautiful science and story

Simard's groundbreaking life's work to help humans understand trees and forests is chronicled here beautifully--with vulnerability and intelligence, both--affording the reader a glimpse into forestry and environmental science alongside a beautifully told story of the life of a forester, scientist, researcher, professor, mother, and partner. Simard shares a story that is inspirational for our personal lives and also matters greatly for the life of the planet. Those who love Richard Powers' "The Overstory" will experience joy learning more about a primary influence of the character "Plant Patty," while those who love "Finding the Mother Tree" would surely love, and should add to their list, "The Overstory." I read Simard's remarkable book the first time for the personal story and am on my second read to gather all the scientific gems--I'll probably read a third time to integrate the two!

15 people found this helpful

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Absolutely INSPIRING!!!

Dr. Simard beautifully weaved autobiography and scientific essay into a wonderfully inspiring novel of what is most amazing about our planet. Highly recommend!

10 people found this helpful

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Forest breakthroughs

I'm a forestry buff and owner of 11 acres of firs, hemlocks and madrone. The content of this book is suitably technical and of real interest both for historical context and present day application. For the most part, the details of the author's personal life were of interest and properly balanced but at the end of the book a bit more editing for length would have been desirable. I enjoyed the author's narration throughout. One of the better tree books I've ever read.

8 people found this helpful

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A voice of reason in a world of imbalance

Suzanne Simard’s life’s work, meticulous, curious and constructive brings to light our history of exploitation and ignorance in “resource management” in BC. She has shown us where our mantra of more more more, and the fiction that has been constructed to justify it is not the only way, and comes at a terrible cost. Her careful study of complex forest, river and ocean system interactions points the way to a deep truths about the place of humans in the natural world, and the urgent need to abandon notions of our superiority. These unassailable truths are the key to a way forward for humanity in a time of climate change and catastrophic instability. If Darwin was the father of evolutionary theory, then Suzanne Simard is the Mother. It’s time for people to listen to the truth, to hear the voice of the Mother.

7 people found this helpful

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we are all one

Page by page, the revelations in the book are astonishing and nurturing to the soul as it reveals our connectedness to others. Not only how trees are connected to each other, the primary focus of her 40 years of research, but all plants are connected. and animals need that connectednes for fruitful survival. And plants and animals are likewise interconnected in this web of life. The revelations of her 40 years of scientific, university based research will astonish even those of us who have known spiritually this life supporting interconnectedness.
A must read for anyone who appreciates our relations with our friends and environment.

4 people found this helpful

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Suzanne Simard is Amazing!

If, by end of this fabulous book, you’re not madly in love with Suzanne Simard, and the trees and the forests she seems apart of, you have no heart. This is a tour-de-force, one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to in 2021.

4 people found this helpful

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Amazing Forests

I listened to Suzanne Sumatra on Science Friday and knew I would love the book. It was even better than I expected. I grew up in Coeur d Alene Idaho having fond memories of the forest, trees and lakes.

3 people found this helpful

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Take The Time to Dig In

My eyes are opened to things I never knew to look for after spending time, deep into the pages of this vital book, with Dr. Simard and her tenacious work on behalf of our forests.

As one who lost every seeming stitch of life on four lushly wood acres in the Sierra mountains in the Creek Fire of 2020, I have stood heartbroken among the blackened and craggy remains of long loved tree friends and wondered how, or if, the forest would ever return. It won’t in my lifetime. If I’m lucky, my now grown children will see it in its fullness again by the end of their lives, if we all wake up to climate change and make the concerted efforts we surely must if our own species is to survive.

This is a treasure map for seekers of fortune. In it lies the breath we breathe and guides us to the knowledge necessary to sustain it, protect it, love it, and pass it on as the good stewards of the earth we are charged with being. We occupy this sphere in space with other vital beings and we are all locked into a dance dependent on one another. As I write this fires are raging again, in the summer of 2021, across the West and Pacific Northwest of the US and Canada, and trees and forests are in flames.

Please read Dr. Simard’s massive research woven into a riveting tale and ponder it. Then share the knowledge you gather, like the Mother Trees do, and perhaps we can save our tree friends, our oceans, our beauty, our air, and each other.

2 people found this helpful

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Intricate and deeply moving

This is the one of the most intimate and deeply moving accounts I've read on revealing the connections intrinsic to forest ecology.

2 people found this helpful