The secret life of plants, a very special book
Do plants have feelings? Do plants recognize you? Have you ever thought about these things?
Well, I did not until 1973 when I read the book “The secret life of Plants” by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. Many years have passed but I clearly remember 2 stories which impressed me a lot.
2 Special experiments
Imagine a room with a number of different geranium plants in flower pots. Each plant has electrodes attached to its leaves. In a room close by, a monitor faithfully records all the reactions of the plants. Different people come and go and these plants are being nurtured and well taken care of, with regular light and sufficient water.
Then, one day a new person enters this room and kills one of the geranium plants. Literally stamping on it, tearing it apart and destroying it. On the monitor, it was observed that the other geraniums were very agitated, like experiencing real fright. The dead geranium was taken away and everything became normal again. For some time nothing happened. The geranium plants were treated well and on the monitor nothing special could be observed.
More than a week later, the assassin entered the room. All the geranium plants showed agitation as if they recognized the killer. One must wonder, how is it possible for a plant to remember a person? Could they smell the individual through his (her) chemical signature? Plants do have the ability to detect chemicals in the air.
Afraid of flying
The second story is of a woman who was scared to fly. As an experiment and in preparation for her first flight, her houseplants were fitted with electrodes on their leaves. This woman had to travel many miles till she reached the airport. On entering an airplane for the first time in her life, she became very nervous. On takeoff, she got really frightened, and until she safely landed some hours later her nervousness was high.
Her houseplants reacted. On the monitor, it was observed that during the time of the flight, the plants felt the agitation of their owner.
I remember when I read this book in 1973, I was absolutely fascinated by these stories.
Your relationship with nature
In 1989 a new, updated, Secret Life of Plants was published. This was a fascinating account of the physical, emotional, and spiritual relations between plants and men. It underlines the human relationship with nature. I wonder if many people have kind of lost this relationship. Just look around you and see what is happening to our environment every day. It is not often that one can detect harmony with nature which is especially sad, as we only have this planet to live on.
We are nothing without the flora. It makes Mother Earth beautiful, it provides a habitat for animals and plays a very important role in providing us with clean air (remember that trees produce oxygen). Not only does it provide the very air we breathe but also medicines that help us survive our own errors in judgment. What we can learn or obtain from plants is almost unlimited. Examine as an example, the Amazon Rainforest. Only 10% of its plants have been studied by scientists, yet it has provided us with many beneficial natural medicines. I think that mankind, animals, and nature as a whole are interconnected, but we have lost that connection.
I came across some very interesting information I had never heard of before. Damanhur is an ecovillage and spiritual center, situated in the Piemont area some 50 km north of Turin in Italy.
On the grounds is a sacred forest where singing plants have been recorded.
I am absolutely amazed at the music you can hear. It seems that the plants are conscious of the sounds they make.
Already a long time ago people were interested in the feelings of plants. In the year 1848, the German experimental psychologist Gustav Fechner thought that plants were capable of emotions. He said talking to them and being nice to them would promote growth. I have experienced that myself with my orchids.
Happy orchids in my house
I have friends who cannot have orchids in their house. They often receive an orchid as a present and within one week, the orchid is losing its flowers and starts to look dismal. They will give the orchid to me, and in my house, they are happy and live for many years. They produce abundant flowers twice a year.
The other day, while trying to guide a stem with little buds, I broke off the top. I was ever so sorry, believe me. During the following 2 weeks, I would send the wounded plant my energy, holding my hands around the broken stem. It has recuperated and is now creating a new stem with buds a little below the wound.
Then there was an Indian scientist, Jagadish Chandra Bose who made experiments with plants in the year 1900. He invented several different instruments with which he could measure the electrical responses in the plants. When a plant dies, it seems it suffers an electrical spasm.
The famous playwright George Bernard Shaw was a vegetarian. He visited the laboratory of biologist Patrick Geddes. There he witnessed the death of cabbage, it had convulsions while it boiled. One wonders how Mr. Shaw reacted to this but it seems he was upset by it.
Not conclusive results
Some tests to prove the claims in the Secret Life of Plants have not had a confirming result. One said that these claims of plants having feelings were untrue. Personally, I think that all living things have some kind of feeling. Perhaps not in the way we have feelings, but still.
New findings on plant feelings
In the past years, new evidence has come to light. Even if a plants response to being hurt is not exactly the same as in a human or animals, it is still visible that they react. Plants do not have a nervous system, neither do they have neurotransmitters, but they do have glutamate. When a plant is bitten by an insect or somehow injured, it releases glutamate at the place of the wound. Then a calcium wave rushes through the entire plant body, which in turn, releases their stress hormones.
A plant cannot run away like animals or humans. It has a built-in mechanism to defend itself and repair wounds. I am sure that in the future we will hear more about what plants are capable of doing. Everything in existence is made of energy. All life on this world, humans, animals, and plants, are made of the same materials and energy. They have had a different evolution but when you go back to the beginning, everything is made up of atoms.
As an afterthought
The more we find out about nature, the beauty, and its complexity, the more amazing it gets.
I have already commented that plants might be able to recognize individuals through chemicals in the air. A report from “The Scientist Magazine” documents that plants communicate through the air, by releasing volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
I did not know that plants can also communicate through the soil, by secreting soluble chemicals into the soil and transporting them along thread-like networks formed by soil fungi.
With this in mind, it is not inconceivable that a plant might send out distress signals when it is dying and other plants would recognize the additional “smell” of the assassin.
Don’t you think we live in a wonderful place?
Photo Source: Pixabay
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