Getting closer with an ear for nature

LISTEN to the "pulse" of trees. This is the message from Suffolk Wildlife Trust because in gardens, woodlands and forests, the sap rises and buds begin to swell.

LISTEN to the "pulse" of trees.

This is the message from Suffolk Wildlife Trust because in gardens, woodlands and forests, the sap rises and buds begin to swell.

The sound of sap moving through young trees can actually be heard during the onset of spring, according to Judy Powell, the wildlife trust's education officer.

"If you place your ear to a smallish tree with a girth of up to 45 centimetres you are likely to hear a whooshing sound which varies in intensity according to the species.

"We have found field maple, wild cherry and hornbeam give the best results. Others like oak, silver birch and ash are more difficult to discern and may need the aid of a stethoscope," she said.

Ms Powell has been encouraging children to listen to trees for more than 20 years as part of the trust's work with groups of youngsters.

Most Read

At a recent meeting of the Milden HallWatch Group, near Lavenham, families were asked to try to describe the noise they heard.

These varied from "crashing drips" (field maple) and loo flushing (hornbeam) to mouse scratching in the attic (wild cherry).

"The very thought of listening to a tree is often regarded as wacky, something like tree hugging, but you can definitely hear sounds," Ms Powell said.

"Listening to trees helps us to connect with them in a special way. It alerts us to trees on our doorstep and encourages us to care for them.

It reveals their inner life, seasonal cycles and helps us to recognise their value both at an environmental and spiritual level.

"From our experience, children and adults alike are awe-inspired when they hear the tree pulse," Ms Powell added.

Richard Davis, forest manager in the Suffolk coastal area for the Forestry Commission, said the idea of trees making sounds was quite feasible.

"It stands to reason. The sap has to rush through tiny vessels and the noise would be as it brushes against the cells. Different trees would have different cell structures and so you would get different sounds," he said.

Children from Fairfield Infants School in Felixstowe listened to trees as part of their work at the wildlife trust's Foxburrow Farm field centre at Melton.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter