THE SECRET LIFE OF PLANTS by Peter & Christopher Bird Tompkins


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Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,/ And waste its sweetness on the desert air."" The sentiment, from Gray's Elegy, typifies the common anthropocentric attitude toward flora. Plants -- they're to be cultivated, watered, fussed over, smelled, cut, chopped down, eaten, made into paper or corn flakes or what have you. The weirdo notion that they have feelings and a soul, that they communicate with each other and the world around them (including people), that they have a sentient life of their own, is preposterous -- something dreamed up by those who believe in tarot cards or werewolves, right? Not so, say Tompkins and Bird, who analyze the modern scientific evidence which includes human-plant telepathy, plant sensitivity to both sound and color wavelengths, and the strong possibility of conscious perception and motivation within the botanical kingdom. Of course the authors are believers and some of what they report as documentation is unreplicated or pseudoscientific experimentation -- sometimes mere speculation. But how, for instance, does one account for George and Marjorie De La Wart's successful feeding of plants via human thought under controlled conditions? Perhaps indeed ""plants may at last be the bridesmaids at a marriage of physics and metaphysics."" A complementary volume -- The Cosmic Life of Plants, an exploration of the ""philosophic meaning"" plants give to the totality of life -- will be forthcoming. In the meantime, we plan to talk more softly to the office Triffids.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1973
Publisher: Harper & Row