If you enjoyed Peter Wohlebben’s The Hidden Life of Trees, as I did, then you will find much to appreciate in What A Plant Knows, by Daniel Chamovitz. Chamovitz, Director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University, presents an explanation of the scientific evidence regarding plants’ abilities to see, smell, feel, hear, remember, and understand where they are.
Plants do not experience these senses as we do. They don’t have eyes or brains; so they cannot see by creating mental pictures the way animals can. However, plants do have photoreceptors very much like the ones people have in the back of their retinas. In plants, these photoreceptors can be found in growing tips and in leaves.
Plants do not grow toward the light because of photosynthesis, they do so because the photoreceptors in the growing tip sense the light. If you cut off the tip, the plant will no longer move toward sunshine. Plants detect different kinds of light and respond to them in different ways. They can also measure the amount of light they are exposed to.
I’ve been reading a fascinating book called What A Plant Knows, by the scientist Daniel Chamovitz. It’s about how plants are smarter than most of us have thought – they have a remarkable abilities to detect and respond to aspects of their environment. I’ll be writing a review soon.
But to give just one example right now: plants can tell up from down. A lot of us assume that they just grow toward the light, but they know the difference even in darkness. Here’s a time lapse video of two corn seeds, one pointing up and the other pointing down. The roots both find their way, even in the absence of light.
This video comes from the website Plants in Motion, sponsored by the University of Indiana. It’s worth checking out.
Watching tonight’s news makes me suspect that plants may be smarter than we are. It is inconceivable that tonight’s unleashing of military power was the result of some well-considered strategy to achieve peace or protect the innocent. This President has made it clear that he considers it a sign of weakness to be much concerned about civilian casualties in war.
So why the fireworks? Could it be an attempt to distract from certain recent legal developments? They say that MAGA these days stands for My Attorney Got Arrested. I would like to think that eventually this country will find our way towards a sensible direction, just as plants know to do.
Sorry for the politics. I couldn’t help myself.
Sunday night I drove from Chicago to Springfield, about 200 miles heading south, and it snowed most of the way. At home we’ve got a number of Daffodils that have been on the verge of opening for days and days, but they’re wisely keeping their buds shut until a reasonable degree of warmth is achieved.