MOON Shine | Plant intelligence

In this process of unlearning, in the process of feeling and hearing the plants again, one comes to realize many things. And of these things, perhaps stronger than the others, one feels the pain of the Earth. It is not possible to escape it.” – Stephen Harrod Buhner

“That we held, and still hold, treaties with the animals and plant species is a known part of tribal culture. The relationship between human people and animals is still alive and resonant in the world, the ancient tellings carried on by a constellation of stories, songs, and ceremonies, all shaped by lived knowledge of the world and its many interwoven, unending relationships. These stories and ceremonies keep open the bridge between one kind of intelligence and another, one species and another.” – Linda Hogan

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“In conjunction with his colleagues, Frantisek Baluska from the Institute of Cellular and Molecular Botany at the University of Bonn is of the opinion that brain-like structures can be found at root tips. In addition to signaling pathways, there are also numerous systems and molecules similar to those found in animals. When a root feels its way forward in the ground, it is aware of stimuli. …If the root encounters toxic substances, impenetrable stones, or saturated soil, it analyzes the situation and transmits the necessary adjustments to the growing tip. The root tip changes direction as a result of this communication and steers the growing root around the critical areas.” – Peter Wohlleben

Because all life-forms, irrespective of their nature, must, to survive, have a sense of not me, they all have a sense of self, they are in fact self-aware. Because all life forms, irrespective of their nature, must, to survive, be able to analyze the nature of the not me that approaches them and, further, must be able to determine its intent, and further, be able to craft a response to that intent, all life-forms are, by definition, intelligent. Because all life-forms have to be able to determine the intent of the not me that approaches them, they also have to be able to determine meaning. In other words, all living organisms can not only process data, they also engage in a search for meaning, an analysis that runs much deeper than linear cause and effect. Thus, three capacities—self-awareness, intelligence, and the search for meaning that have—erroneously—been ascribed as belonging only to human beings, are in fact general conditions for every life-form.” – Stephen Harrod Buhner

“Plants are dynamic and highly sensitive organisms that actively and competitively forage for limited resources both above and below ground. Plants accurately compute inputs from the environment, use sophisticated cost-benefit analysis, and take action to mitigate diverse environmental insults. Plants are also capable of refined recognition of self and non-self, and are territorial in behavior. This view sees plants as information processing organisms with complex, long-distance communication systems within the plant body and extending into the surrounding ecosystem.” – from the mission statement, Society of Plant Signaling and Behavior

Plants are acutely aware of the world around them. They are aware of their visual environment; they differentiate between red, blue, far-red, and UV lights and respond accordingly. They are aware of aromas surrounding them and respond to minute quantities of volatile compounds wafting in the air. Plants know when they are being touched and can distinguish different touches. They are aware of gravity; they can change their shapes to ensure that shoots grow up and roots grow down. And plants are aware of their past; they remember past infections and the conditions they’ve weathered and then modify their current physiology based on those memories. …What we must see on a broad level is that we share biology not only with chimps and dogs, but also with begonias and sequoias.” – Daniel Chamovitz

“We can no more justify using nonhumans as human resources than we can justify human slavery. Animal use and slavery have at least one important point in common: both institutions treat sentient beings exclusively as resources of others. That cannot be justified with respect to humans; it cannot be justified with respect to nonhumans—however “humanely” we treat them.” – Gary L. Francione

Because it wasn’t merely that the trees were speaking to them. It was that the trees themselves were sentient beings, capable of watching their movements. Was it only the trees in this strange wood, or did every tree observe their movements? Had they always been trying to speak to them? There was no way of knowing, either, if the trees were good of bad, if they lived or hatred humans, if they had principles or compassion. They were like aliens, Gansey thought. Aliens that we have treated very badly for a very long time.” – Maggie Stiefvater

“Of course there are those who’d be quick to claim that none of this shows any plant intelligence at all. They’d argue that it’s all mechanical; it’s no different from the body producing white blood cells when confronted by an infection. I’d argue that you not consciously thinking about your white blood cells doesn’t mean that your body is also not thinking. The body is making those choices, and doing so with intelligence.” – Derrick Jensen

What can plants do that cheetahs can’t? They can regenerate when 90 percent of their bodies have been eaten away. They can have sex at long distances and communicate with approximately 20 more senses than an animal has. Those are very pragmatic arguments. But I think they’re valuable just because they’re there. We tend to judge plants not as autonomous organisms but in terms of what they can do for us. But they’re astonishing in their own right and deserve to be given the same ethical status as animals.” – Richard Mabey

“I encourage everyone to go where their hearts take them, with love, not fear. If we all travel this road, the world will be a better place for all beings. Kinder and more humane choices will be made when we let our hearts lead the way. Compassion begets compassion and caring for and loving animals spills over into compassion and caring for humans. The umbrella of compassion is very important to share freely and widely.” – Marc Bekoff


Photo credit: Thomas Ashlock for



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