No one has done more to transform our understanding of trees than the world-renowned scientist Suzanne Simard. Now she shares the secrets of a lifetime spent uncovering startling truths about trees: their cooperation, healing capacity, memory, wisdom and sentience.
Raised in the forests of British Columbia, where her family has lived for generations, Professor Simard did not set out to be a scientist. She was working in the forest service when she first discovered how trees communicate underground through an immense web of fungi, at the centre of which lie the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful entities that nurture their kin and sustain the forest.
Though her ground-breaking findings were initially dismissed and even ridiculed, they are now firmly supported by the data. As her remarkable journey shows us, science is not a realm apart from ordinary life, but deeply connected with our humanity.
In Finding the Mother Tree, she reveals how the complex cycle of forest life – on which we rely for our existence – offers profound lessons about resilience and kinship, and must be preserved before it's too late.
Dr Suzanne Simard was raised in the Monashee Mountains of British Columbia. She is Professor of Forest Ecology in the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Forestry, and has earned a global reputation for her research on tree connectivity and communication and its impact on the health and biodiversity of forests.
"A scientific memoir as gripping as any HBO drama series [...] The beauty of her book is in the grafting of events from her life [...] on to her experience of the forest [...] Just as she disinters earthy mushrooms and the finest of filaments, so she lays bare the human heart with moving simplicity [...] It is her gallant mission in the book and in her life – and one essential to combating the climate crisis – to make science more humanly engaged"
– Kate Kellaway, Observer
"Few scientists make much impact with their PhD thesis, but, in 1997, Suzanne Simard did just that [...] What was then a challenge to orthodox ideas is today widely accepted"
– New Scientist
"Suzanne Simard is a total legend – someone who transformed the world in the way of James Lovelock, or Lynn Margulis"
– Rowan Hooper
"This book is 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 [...] For Simard, revitalizing synergies in the forest while meeting the needs of humans is more than a job. It is a calling as grand as the subjects of her book: to be a Mother Tree herself"
– Jonathan C. Slaght, The New York Times
"Finding the Mother Tree reminds us that the world is a web of stories, connecting us to one another. [...] The interplay of personal narrative, scientific insights and the amazing revelations about the life of the forest make a compelling story [...] These are stories that the world needs to hear"
– Robin Wall Kimmerer, SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Environmental Biology, founder and director of the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment, and author of Braiding Sweetgrass and Gathering Moss
"Suzanne Simard has a completely beguiling way of writing. I love how she combines brilliant scientific explanation with emotion and feeling"
– Patrick Barkham, author of Wild Child and The Butterfly Isles
"The moving and remarkable story of one of the greatest ecological discoveries of our time. Writing with humility and passion, Suzanne Simard's unravelling of the secret life of trees is changing the scientific mindset. Finding the Mother Tree is a crucial step towards healing our planet"
– Isabella Tree, author of Wilding and The Living Goddess
"Finding the Mother Tree is a rare and moving book – part charming memoir, part crash course in forest ecology. And yet, it manages to be about the things that matter most: the ways we care for each other, fail each other and listen to each other. After the last year and a half, its lessons about motherhood, connection and the natural world are more timely than ever"
– Jake Gyllenhaal
"[Suzanne Simard] forever transformed our views of the world and the interconnectivity of our environment. Finding the Mother Tree is not only a deeply beautiful memoir about one woman's impactful life, it's also a call to action to protect, understand and connect with the natural world"
– Amy Adams
"Few researchers have had the pop culture impact of Suzanne Simard"
– Scientific American
"In [Finding the Mother Tree], [Simard] invites us into her world, which is the world of trees. What she has discovered there is revolutionary on both the scientific and the spiritual level. It is so extraordinary that it is, frankly, hard to believe – until you see the data, the science, the rigour, and the many independent affirmations of her findings [...] The future of this planet depends on our ability to understand Nature and integrate what she is telling us; Simard is one of her most insightful and eloquent translators"
– John Vaillant, bestselling author and winner of the Governor General's Award for Non-Fiction (Canada) for The Golden Spruce, The Tiger, and Jaguar's Children
"This book promises to change our understanding about what is really going on in the forest, and other pressing mysteries about the real world"
– Michael Pollan
"A vivid and compelling memoir of [Simard's] lifelong quest to prove that the forest is more than just a collection of trees"
– The New York Times