Pando is a unique forest often referred to as the “Forest of One Tree”. The forest, believed to be the world’s largest living organism, is made up of 47,000 identical trunks that sprout from a shared root system, covering over 100 acres of land. “Pando” means “I spread” in Latin which is an accurate description of the organism’s expansive growth. Scientists estimate that the tree is thousands of years old and has a dry weight of 6,000 tons, making it the heaviest organism on earth.
A recent project led by sound artist, Jeff Rice, aimed to capture an acoustic portrait of Pando using a hydrophone. Sound recordings were taken, capturing the subtle sounds of the forest, including birds, foxes, ants, and the rustling of leaves. Rice also captured the sound of a branch being struck 90 feet away, supporting the theory that Pando’s root system is interconnected.
Rice and the founder of the nonprofit Friends of Pando, Lance Odit, worked together on the project, recording all the sounds they could with meticulous precision. In one recording, Rice captured a quivering whisper of a million leaves echoing at the base of the Pando. The sound is believed to be the result of leaves vibrating and traveling through the branches and into the ground.
The recordings offer insights into the soundscape of the forest, which is often lost in the background as people visit Pando to view its awe-inspiring sight. The experiment also highlights the need for further research to determine whether the sound recordings can travel through soil or whether they are interconnected narratives of a single organism.