In the heart of Utah’s wilderness lies a botanical wonder that defies conventional classification: Pando, the “trembling giant.” While coastal redwoods claim the spotlight as the Earth’s Largest Tree, Pando transcends mere stature. This aspen grove, with its sprawling expanse of approximately 47,000 genetically identical stems, represents not merely a forest but a singular, interconnected organism of unparalleled magnitude. Revered as the largest tree by weight, species, and land mass, Pando’s legacy spans millennia, standing as a silent sentinel amidst the ebb and flow of time.

Amidst the verdant tapestry of Pando’s foliage lies a realm of hidden intricacies awaiting discovery. Jeff Rice, an adept audio engineer and journalist, alongside Lance Oditt, the visionary leader of Friends of Pando, embarked on a pioneering quest to unveil the mysteries enshrouding this ancient arboreal marvel. Their journey, marked by innovation and curiosity, transcended traditional scientific methodologies, offering a glimpse into the pulsating heart of Pando’s existence through the medium of sound. Join us as we journey into the depths of Pando’s domain, where whispers of wind and echoes of life weave a symphony of connectivity and discovery.

Challenging Conventional Wisdom

In the realm of towering arboreal wonders, Pando, Utah’s “trembling giant,” stands as a testament to nature’s boundless ingenuity. While coastal redwoods claim the title of tallest trees, Pando transcends conventional categories. This aspen grove, spanning a vast expanse, is not merely a collection of individual trees but a singular, interconnected organism boasting approximately 47,000 genetically identical stems. Revered as the largest tree by weight, species, and land mass, Pando’s mystique deepens with its age, estimated at a staggering 9,000 years.

Delving into Pando’s Acoustic Realm

Jeff Rice, an accomplished audio engineer, journalist, and sound designer, alongside Lance Oditt, the executive director of Friends of Pando, embarked on an unconventional journey to unravel the secrets hidden within Pando’s sprawling domain. Departing from traditional scientific methods, they sought to capture the essence of Pando’s existence through sound.

Capturing Nature’s Symphony

During his tenure as Friends of Pando’s artist-in-residence in 2022, Rice meticulously recorded Pando’s ambient soundscape, employing an array of microphones to capture the rustle of leaves, the melodic chirping of birds, and the gentle caress of weather patterns. Beyond their aesthetic allure, these natural sounds serve as invaluable markers of environmental health, offering insights into local biodiversity and serving as a baseline for assessing environmental fluctuations.

Exploring Subterranean Realms

Fascinated by the intricate interplay between Pando’s towering stems and its labyrinthine root system, Rice and Oditt sought to delve into the depths beneath the earth’s surface. Utilizing hydrophones, typically reserved for aquatic environments, they endeavored to capture the elusive sounds emanating from Pando’s root network. To their astonishment, faint yet discernible vibrations reverberated through the hydrophones, hinting at the intricate symphony pulsating beneath the soil.

A Symphony of Connectivity

The revelation that vibrations traverse through Pando’s extensive root system unveils a profound dimension of connectivity within this ancient organism. Analogous to a vast network of interconnected vessels, Pando’s root system acts as a conduit for the transmission of sound waves, akin to whispers weaving through a dense forest. Experimental evidence, such as the detection of distant thumps upon branch impact, serves to reinforce the hypothesis of interconnectedness, offering tantalizing glimpses into Pando’s hidden world. These findings not only redefine our understanding of Pando’s internal dynamics but also underscore the intricate web of relationships that permeate its existence. As we peel back the layers of mystery surrounding Pando’s realm, we are invited to contemplate the harmonious symphony of life pulsating beneath the surface—a testament to the interconnectedness and resilience of nature’s grand design.

Paving the Path for Scientific Inquiry

While their endeavor initially bore the semblance of artistic exploration, Rice and Oditt’s findings possess profound implications for scientific inquiry. The revelation that wind-induced vibrations could potentially unveil the inner workings of Pando’s hydraulic system without causing harm opens avenues for nondestructive research. Friends of Pando envisions harnessing this data to illuminate enigmatic facets of Pando’s existence, from water dynamics and interrelations among branch arrays to insect colonies and root depths, heralding a new era of discovery in the study of this ancient arboreal marvel.


Nestled within the heart of Utah’s wilderness, Pando emerges as a living testament to the resilience and interconnectedness that define life on Earth. Thanks to the pioneering efforts of Rice and Oditt, we are granted a rare glimpse into the concealed realms of this majestic organism, where vibrations reverberate through ancient root systems, harmonizing with the symphony of nature’s ceaseless evolution. As we persist in unraveling the enigmatic tapestry of Pando’s existence, let us stand in awe of the intricacies that characterize our natural world. Let us, too, recognize our responsibility to safeguard these precious treasures for the benefit of future generations. In the enduring legacy of Pando, we find inspiration to nurture and preserve the boundless wonders that grace our planet, ensuring that the melody of discovery continues to resonate for years to come.