Mother trees are the oldest and largest trees in the forest and their extensive networks and experience allow them to exchange the most information with the other trees. Through their interconnections ‘mother’ trees or ‘hub’ trees are able to support younger, more shaded trees with carbon and nutrients essential for growth, and support sick trees until they are able to do well on their own. Also, due to their increased exposure to tree diseases and pests, mother trees can impart their “knowledge” by way of defence signals to younger trees, allowing them to fight the diseases or insects affecting them. Mother trees are also able to distinguish between their own offspring and trees of other species, allowing them to provide more nutrients to their saplings and discourage the growth of the saplings of other species by producing growth inhibitors (Simard, 2016). Because their “knowledge” is so useful, mother trees can be kept alive by the trees around them through carbon and nutrient transfers, even when they are only a stump. Green wood has been found in the long cut stumps of trees that are hundreds of years old (Wohllben, 2017).

Mary Jane Rodger