“It really suggests that it’s all one massive mass of roots,” Leuzinger says, “exchanging water, nutrients, and carbon in all directions.” There’s already reason to suspect that this kind of network would be possible. When rocky soil crowds roots into the same area, they can fuse together—a process called root grafting. But no one had caught the melded roots in the act of conducting water between trees before, according to Leuzinger. The researchers suspect the kauri stump joined up with its neighbors while still whole, creating an extensive root network that may have kept all three trees watered and upright in a win-win-win situation. At some point, however, one tree suffered an unknown trauma and what remained underwent a complete transformation, rewiring its water transport systems to live entirely off the charity of its neighbors. Now, why the remaining trees support the freeloading stump is anyone’s guess.