The Anatomy of the Arts

What's It Like to Be a Plant?

Artwork by London Ladd

Artwork by London Ladd

As scientific knowledge about the biological intricacies of all living things expands, the conversation around whether plants have neurological capacity has re-emerged in a new book, *Planta Sapiens: The New Science of Plant Intelligence* by Paco Calvo with Natalie Lawrence. Calvo presents new scientific findings demonstrating the electrical and chemical signaling capacity of plants, suggesting the possibility of a new field of plant neurobiology. Is it possible that plants are sensing, feeling, thinking beings?

"Is the potted cactus on your windowsill a cognitive being? When the lettuce in your sandwich was cut from its roots, did it feel pain?

In a provocative new book, Planta Sapiens: The New Science of Plant Intelligence, philosopher Paco Calvo, with writer Natalie Lawrence, explores these questions, urging us not to fall into the “zoocentric trap” of believing that intelligence, agency and even consciousness are found only in animals.

Consider the movements of Mimosa plants, for example. A poke from a human finger usually causes the plants' leaves to shrink and fold against the stem. This response takes mere seconds—an excellent defense against herbivores. But after a few minutes in a bell jar suffused with anesthetic fumes, Mimosa becomes unresponsive. The same drugs quiet the gyrations of pea tendrils and the clenching of Venus flytraps." Read more at Scientific American