On Being-A Plant
Being, existence, living, life; these words all describe the same thing. The Oxford dictionary defines intelligence as “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.” While psychology says, “the ability to derive information, learn from experience, adapt to the environment, understand, and correctly utilize thought and reason.” Based on these definitions we know plants are ‘beings’ but are they ‘intelligent’? There are scientists from many different areas who are working to discover this. Many are finding the answer to be YES.
Do they have a brain like humans? Not even a little. Perhaps our definition of what is a brain or the ability to decipher information and learn from it needs to evolve. We humans are more likely to believe in space aliens with weird ways of speaking, having intelligence, and living life then we are able to apply this to plants. Why?
For some, it’s the thought that plants can be ‘smarter’ than a human and what does this say about humans? For others, it is a religious issue. Many religions and practices have a “tree of life” including the Norse Yggdrasil, Christianity and Judaism (the Tree of Knowledge), and cultures including the Ancient Egyptians, Turks, Africans, Celts, and many First Nation tribes. Many of these trees were not just representations but living trees of wisdom ascension.
Plants have been around longer than humans, according to paleontology and botany. Likely they started with fungi mixing with algae and bacteria to form lichens. Over time, vascular cells evolved, the ability to photosynthesize evolved, and plants such as ferns and later flowering plants developed. I have to say that reading about this is a bit like Who’s Who meets the Dating Game (or a Bachelorette show), but far more fascinating. Without the cooperation and timing, different algae, bacteria, and fungi would not have gotten together to produce lichens, and lichens wouldn’t have gone on from there. Look at our own ancestors. If our eight times grandmother hadn’t met and married our 8 times grandfather, we wouldn’t be here either.
Plants can adapt, make decisions, and evolve. That seems pretty intelligent to me. I hope this blog has you talking, whether you agree or not. It is important to look at research and see what people are discovering. Over the next few months I will be talking about different aspects of plants, more food for your thought. This is an interesting journey, one that both gives answers but also creates more questions. It is also a journey that shows how amazing is our world and what we need to do to preserve it.
Entangled Life by Merlin Sheldrake
“How Plants Came to Be”, David Biello, Scientific American, September 16, 2012