The Intelligence of Trees

Wisdom without words

Deborah Barchi
2 min readSep 26, 2021


Photo by Matthew Smith on Unsplash

Why should we ever assume
that spoken words alone proclaim intelligence?

The buzzing, humming, soaring world,
the flick of a tail, a scent left on a trail

all speak of awareness, communication
and the sharing of ancient intention.

Consider the trees,
stationary but never inert.

We observe the movement of their leaves
their swaying boughs, their growing girth

the cool shadows they cast
the hidden homes they provide

but much more important are their roots
gripping, sprawling and linking each tree

to its offspring and the wider world
via chemical messages we may never understand.

Trees help each other, often guarding the weakest
with a vigorous altruism we can only admire.

Despite the ravages of fire, insects, disease,
and worst of all, the callous intrusions of man,

trees continue to communicate and thrive,
bound together by their intelligent, wordless lives.

I admit I never gave a great deal of thought to how trees communicate and assist each other. But having recently watched a streaming program entitled Intelligent Trees, I was absolutely blown away by an aspect of the life of trees I had never considered.

Trees are not silent guardians of the world. Among and between themselves, trees appear to be quite communicative, assertive, and even altruistic.

A handful of scientists around the world are using creative and careful methods to “listen” to the messages trees are sending to each other through their complex, sprawling roots. Chemical messages that appear to assist, guard, and warn each other.

Trees talking to other trees? This has long been a beloved trope in fairytales and science fiction. Consider the Ents! But isn’t it wonderful to learn that trees really do communicate with each other, and that perhaps the more we understand this, the more we may be able to assist and protect them in our rapidly changing, increasingly dangerous world?

If you enjoyed the poem and brief essay about intelligent trees, you might also enjoy reading:



Deborah Barchi

Deborah Barchi has recently retired from her career as a librarian and now has time to read, explore nature, and write poetry and essays.