Listening to the Secret Sounds Of Trees

Woman listening with headphones (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Woman listening (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

18 March 2015

When the trees leaf out six weeks from now we’ll once again hear the sound of rustling leaves.  Did you know that trees also make secret sounds we cannot hear?

Last year an article by Sarah Zhang in Gizmodo caught my attention.  Eavesdropping On The Secret Sounds Of Trees describes the art and science of a Swiss research team, headed by Marcus Maeder, who recorded the internal sounds of trees.

The project, fittingly called trees, attached sensitive microphones to trunks, branches and even leaves, then recorded the sounds and analyzed them in light of simultaneous environmental factors such as drought.  Click here to hear the clicks, pops, hisses and taps made by a Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris).

Closer to home our trees are getting ready for spring, the sap is running, and it’s maple sugaring time in North America.

Maple sugar bucket hanging on a tree (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Maple sugar bucket hanging on a tree (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

And so I wonder …

If we had those special microphones could we heard the sap rising in the maples? 


In 2010 Alex Metcalfe installed headphones on a copper beech at Oakville Galleries in Oakville, Ontario. Anyone could listen to the tree using his installation — and so can you with this video. Wow!

(photos from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the images to see the originals)

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