This is a Beech Tree seedling, and during the process of its germination, the very first thing that happens is that it sends down a root which both anchors it to the ground, and prepares it to draw water, minerals and nutrients up from the soil.
At the same time, the 2 parts of the seed are lifted out of the seed case to become the ‘seed-leaves’ or cotyledons. In those seed-leaves, which always look different to the real leaves of the tree are all the nutrients that are needed to begin the germination process, and they support this little seedling until it starts to produce its own leaves.
So here we have a young tree having established itself, and all appears to be going well.
However, a seed can be carried very far away from its parent tree, which may have been growing very happily in its premium location for hundreds of years. Lets say that this seedling ends up growing in a less favourable soil.
Where’s it going to get the nutrients that it needs if its anchored to the spot?
Mother Nature has a great way of helping out under such circumstances.
An alliance between a fungus in the soil and the tree means that the tree can take nutrients from the fungus that it cannot access by itself in return for doing the same for the fungus. Each helps the other out.
This interaction is called a Symbiotic Association, and it is probably the most important natural phenomenon in the oxygen producing world that is the world of plants.
So the next time you’re out and about and you see little mushrooms growing under the trees, just try to imagine the enormous unseen collaboration that is going on beneath your feet, and wonder at the amazing things that go on day after day without you ever having been aware of it.