Avatar and the Real Life Wood Wide Web
Did you know there was real science behind Avatar‘s most famous concept? The forest is alive, all nurtured by the Mother Tree.
James Cameron’s Avatar caused a sensation upon its release in 2009. Fans of the science fiction movie returned again and again for repeated viewings, making it one of the biggest box office hits of all time.
The movie touched a real nerve in the modern psyches of so many longing for more balance and connection with all living things in nature.
The Mother Tree
In the film, the main characters explore an alien planet that contains the “Hometree,” an ancient tree so immense that the entire alien Na’vi tribe could live inside it. The main characters discovered that the Hometree created “biological neural network” that connected the souls of the Na’vi with all the living things on the planet.
The concept of the Hometree was not just a science fiction idea conjured up by Cameron and his co-writers.
The Mother Tree concept at the foundation of the film was pioneered by Suzanne Simard and Paul Stamets. “Without that spiritual core,” wrote Fantastic Fungi director Louie Schwartzberg, “Avatar would never have become one of the top box office films of all time.”
Research into the vast mycelial fungal networks that exist in the soil beneath our feet right here on earth reveals that they constitute just such living, intelligent networks that feed, protect and transmit information amongst the flora and fauna growing on the ground surface above them.
Wood Wide Web
Professor Suzanne Simard is a biologist specializing in forest ecology at the University of British Columbia. Prof. Simard identified hub trees, or “mother trees.” Mother Trees are the largest trees in forests that act as central hubs for vast below-ground mycorrhizal networks.
The mycelium network is a vast underground “Wood Wide Web” that binds the forest together.
In the Fantastic Fungi companion book, she described the majestic way these trees protect their own. It all begins when a mycorrhizal fungus builds a symbiotic relationship with the tree–exchanging carbon and nutrients through a network of fungal threads.
“These mycorrhizal fungi form a network of threads that bond with the roots of other trees in the neighborhood and connect them all, no matter the species, like underground telephone wires. The biggest and oldest trees—the Mother Trees—have the largest root systems and the most root tips intertwined with these fungi, and they therefore connect with more trees.”
This Earth Day 2020 video from Louie explores this network with some gorgeous visuals.
You can learn more about The Mother Tree in Fantastic Fungi, directed by Louie Schwartzberg. It is a consciousness-shifting film that takes us on an immersive journey through time and scale into the magical earth beneath our feet, an underground network that can heal and save our planet.
Follow this link to watch Fantastic Fungi at home.