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Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest

Written by Suzanne Simard

Recommended by Colet Allen


This book is a memoir of Suzanne Simard’s 30+ year journey through scientific research to find the Mother Tree.  The book reads like fiction with great story telling, humor and a childlike love and curiosity about her surroundings.  Suzanne’s upbringing in an extended, loving family of loggers, farmers, and ranchers in the northern forests of British Columbia, Canada put her on a lifelong journey through scientific research. She not only loves the trees – they are her passion.

She says that at 7 years old she watched her grandfather dig out the side of their outhouse to rescue their dog, Jiggs, who had fallen in and could not get out. This was the first time she remembered questions forming as the shovels of soil lifted up various layers from the forest floor. As she ran her fingers through handfuls of roots and other organic materials, she wondered what was all this different stuff. There were different colors, textures and masses of stringy material. What was its purpose?

What I loved about this book:

  1. How her family’s way of life in the forest informed so much of who she was and what she loved, and also helped prepare her for her life’s work – even if she didn’t know it at the time.
  2. How she framed and explained her questions and then set up experiments to determine if what she thought was happening was indeed happening. Her descriptions were magical, lyrical, and lovely. I could smell the forest as I listened to the audio version of her book read by her. (You can download the audio book from the Jackson County Library.)
  3. That she gave credit to those who came before her, such as grandparents and indigenous people. Their intentioned observation and spiritual beliefs about the natural world led and guided some of Suzanne’s ideas as she developed her scientific inquiries.
  4. Her bravery and stick-with-it-ness in the face of criticism from governmental agency personnel, corporate-motivated greedy foresters and less enlightened colleagues who could not, or did not, want to understand or even consider her ideas.
  5. That she made discovery after discovery until there was no way that her research could be refuted.
  6. How her research and discoveries, along with those of others, are slowly changing destructive logging practices, such as clear cutting. Seeing these ignorant and destructive practices slowly change gives me and others hope that nature is more about collaboration rather than competition. Hopefully we can help our forests to help us – and we can save ourselves.


Suzzane Simard: How Trees Talk to Each Other/TED Talks: I recommend this talk. You will see who she is, enjoy her delightful sense of humor and get a sense of the book in about 18 minutes.

Finding the Mother Tree was published May 4, 2021 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.