The most important component in this vast interconnected communication network are the “hub trees”—these are the larger, maternal trees who nurture the young trees growing in the understory, where there’s little light.

A mother tree can be connected to hundreds of juvenile trees. The hub trees use the network to send carbon to the trees in the understory. These trees are in dire need of carbon, since their ability to use photosynthesis is severely limited.

When hub trees are near death, they transmit one final message to their progeny consisting of things the next generation needs to know. This is encoded information that help their offspring survive in the coming years and be more resilient against disease.