Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About The Sex Life of Trees

Yes, there is plenty of talk about sex in The Global Forest by Diana Beresford-Kroeger, a book I read recently which is obviously a labour of love and carries a message that needs to be truly heard: the planet vitally needs trees; human beings need trees to survive, animal life needs trees to exist; we must stop killing the trees before it’s too late—and proceeds to tell us why in a series of essays which come straight from the heart.

The Global Forest
by Diana Beresford-Kroeger ★★★½

There is no question that Beresford-Kroeger, a botanist and medical biochemist who is an expert on the medicinal, environmental, and nutritional properties of trees set out with all the right intentions with this series of essays on the many reasons—both known and obscure—as to why trees are essential to the planet and to humanity. With essay titles like A Suit for Sustainability; The Paranormal; The Forest, the Fairy, and the Child; Two-Tier Agriculture; Medicinal Wood, and Green Sex and the Affairs of the Heart (yes, this one graphically depicts the sex life of trees), two things become clear: that this woman is passionate about trees, and that while she makes sound scientific and climactic arguments, her more esoteric ideas can’t be an easy sale for the average reader. Which might explain why this book hasn’t made any best-seller lists, even though it carries an important message. It might have worked better with stronger editing to structure Beresford-Krogerer’s ideas; I found that some notions kept being repeated from one essay to the other, while others were a bit too far-fetched for me, even though I have claimed in the past to be a Forest Fairy myself… But there was interesting information about the habits of the First Nations people, who depended on trees and forests for sustenance and to avoid starvation. I badly wanted to love this book, because I too passionately love trees (my name means “tree” in Hebrew, and I’ve often felt myself to be one too). Also, this book was a gift from a beloved aunt whose opinions matter to me (and who took the time to have the author dedicate it in my name). But really, it left me feeling mostly quite dejected. I can’t fault the author for that, but like most other appeals for conservancy, one can’t help but root for the cause while knowing there are more powerful capitalist interests killing animal and plant life on a daily basis who aren’t going to be stopping anytime soon. This doesn’t keep me from trying to make responsible choices and supporting the good fight,  but sometimes my lack of optimism gets in the way and I feel like my only real contribution is the guilt of the world I carry on my shoulders.

Obviously, I’m not alone in feeling this way. When I posted this review on LibraryThing, a member responded by providing a link to an article in The Guardian about how the pessimism on environmental topics sparked a movement called the Dark Mountain Project which posits that we’ve done too little too late to avert “Ecocide”.

What do you think? Too little too late, or are there still reasons to hope for a positive outcome after more than fifty years of environmental activism?

Photo by Smiler


6 thoughts on “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About The Sex Life of Trees

  1. Well…since you asked what I thought…I thought I’d mention that a whole new field of scientific inquiry has developed in recent years: “phytoneurology.” It’s a crazy concept, I know, but there is growing evidence that trees communicate (chemically?) with one another. Further, there is compelling evidence that plants can “sense” their surroundings.

    Trees constitute the oldest living organisms on this planet. We humans are just beginning to perceive that trees/plants may know/sense more than we ever imagined. Factoid: 30 percent of the human genome is identical to that of the daffodil.

    Yeah. It blows my mind, too.

    • Jonas, the concept doesn’t sound crazy to me at all. Beresford-Kroeger also makes a case for the fact that trees communicate with one another, perhaps using sound frequencies that aren’t detectable to the human ear, and I think shse mentioned chemically as well, though my shoddy memory is already at fault here. She also hinted at many aspects of trees that we have yet to discover. This doesn’t surprise me. Thinking back, now I wish I hadn’t been so quick to give the book away, as I could quote some of what she said. The point she makes is that hopefully we’ll find out about all the gifts trees have to offer this planet before it’s too late, and I certainly agree!

  2. It stands for reason , that considering our selves to be the masters of this planet , we also
    blame our selves for the short comings of nature on our planet.
    There might be some consolation for our blame in a resent scientific debate that i herd
    on a CBC radio program , claiming that in fact the overheating of our planet is temporary for
    the next few decades (about 5 degrees warmer), and than , some scientists predict a gradual cooling
    in the atmosphere of our planet , that could make life unbearable for us human beings,
    and possible for the life for sorts of plants and different creatures .
    May be we could brace our selfs with this prediction , considering that after us ,
    there will be still life on this planet.
    Those scientists did point to their observation , that the sun is slowly shifting its angle
    from our planet , and that will bring a gradual cooling in our atmosphere .
    XX Z.

    • This is an interesting point of view, and I have read about similar arguments before. That may be so, but I’m sure you agree that there are many ways in which we are indeed directly responsible for the destruction of plant and animal life; forests are cut down and decimated to produce toilet paper and clear land for development, wild animals slaughtered for their pelts or various body parts to the point of near or total extinction… these are things that we humans are 100% responsible for, though of course, you and I can’t do much to stop it, other than support organizations that can help bring about change…

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