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This is the intro to secret Life of Plants.
Short of aphrodite, there is nothing levelier on this planet than a flower, nor more essential than a plant. The true matrix
of human life is the greensward covering mother earth. Without green plants we would neither greathe nor eat. On the undersurface of every lear a million
movable lips are engaged in devouring carbon dioxide and expelling oxygen. All together, 25 million square miles of leaf surface are daily engaged in this miracle
of photosynthesis, producing oxygen and food for mand and beast.
Of the 375 billion tons of food we consume each year the bul comes frtom plants, which synthesize it out of air and soil with the help of sunlight. The
Remainder comes from animal products, which in turn are drived from plants. All the food, drink, intoxicants, drugs and midicines that keep man alive and, if properly used, radiantly healthy
are ours through the sweetness of photosynthesis. Sugar produces all our starches, fats, oils, waxes, cellulose. From crib to coffin, man relies on cellulose as the basis for his shelter, clothing,
fuel, fibers, basketry,cordage, musical instruments, and the paper on which he scribbles his philosophy. The abundance of plants profitably used by man is indicated by nearlly six hundred pages in Uphof's Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Agriculture-as the economists agree-is the basis for a nation's wealth.
Instinctively aware of the aesthetic vibrations of plants, which are spiritually satisfying, human beings are happiest and most comfortable when living with flora. At birth, marriage, death, blossoms are prerequistites, as they are at mealtime
or festivities. We give plants and flowers as tokens of love, of friendship, or homage, adn of thanks for hospitality. Our houses are adorned with gardens, our cities with parks, our nations with national preserves. The first thing a woman does to
make a room livable is to place a plant in it or a vase offresh cut flowers. Most men, if pressed, might describe paradise, whether in heaven or on earth, as a garden filled with luxuriant orchids, uncut, frequented by a nymph or two.
aristotle's dogma that plants have souls but no sensation lasted through the Middle Ages and into the eighteenth centruy, when Carl von Linne, grandfather
of modern botany, declared tha plants differ from animals and humans only in their lack of movement, a conceit which was shot down by the great nineteenth-centurey botanist Charles Darwin, who proved that every tendril has its power of independent movement.
As Darwin put it, plants " acquire and display this power only when it is of some advantage to them."
At the beginning of the twentieth century a gifted Viennese biologist with Gallic name of Raoul France put forth the idea, shocking to contemporary natural philosophers, that plants move their bodies as freely, easily, and gracefully as the most skilled animal or human, and that
the only reason we don't appreciate the fact is that plants do so at a much slower pace than humans.
The roots of plants, said France, burrow inquiringly into the earth, the buds and twigs swing in definite circles, the leaves and blossoms bend and shiver with change, the tendrils circle questingly and reach out with ghostly arms to feel their surroundings. Man, said France, merely thinks plants motionless and
feelingless because he will not take the time to watch them.
Poets philosophers such as Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe and Rudolf Steiner, who took the trouble to watch plants, discovered that they grow in opposite directions, partly burrowing into the ground as if attracted by gravity, partly shooting up into the air as if pulled by some form of antigravity, or levity.
Wormlike rootlets, which Darwin Likened to a brain, burrow constantly downward with this white threads, crowding themselves firmly into the soili, tasting it as they go. Small hollow chambers in which a ball of starch can rattle indicate to the root tips the direction of the pull of gravity.
When the earth is dry, the roots turn toward moister ground, finding their way into buried pipes, stretching, as in the case of the lowly alfalfa plant, as far as forty feet, developing an energy that can bor through concrete. No one has yet counted the roots of a tree, but a study of a single rye plant indicates
a total of over 13 million rootlets with a combined length of 380miles. On these rootlets of a rye plant are fine root hairs estimated to number some 14 billion with
a total length of 6600 miles, almost the distance from pole to pole.
As the special burrowing cells are worn out by contact with stones, pebble, and large grains of sand, they are rapidly replaced, but when they reach a source of nourishment they die and are
replaced by cells designed to dissolve mineral salts and collect the resulting elements. This basic nourishment is passsed from cell to cell up through the plant,
which constitutes a single unit of protoplasm, a watery or gelatinous substance considered the basis of physical life.
The root is thus a waterpump, with water acting as universal, solvent, raising elements from root to leaf, evaporating and falling back to earth to act once more as the medium for this chain of life. The leaves of an ordinary sunflower will transpire in a day as much water as a man perspires. On a hot
day a single birch can absorb as much as four hundred quarts, exuding cooling moisture through its leaves.
No plant, says France, is without movement; all growth is a series of movements; plants are constantly preoccupied with bending, turning and quivering. He describes a summer day with thousands of polyplike arms reaching from a peaceful arbor, trembling,
quivering in their eagerness for new support for the heavy stalk that grows behind them. When the tendril, which sweeps a full circle in sixty-seven minutes, finds a perch, within the hour has wound itself like a corkscrew and in so doing raises the vine to itself.
A climbing plant which needs a prop will creep toward the nearest support. Should this be shifted, the vine, within a few hours, will change its course into the new direction. Can the plant see the pole? Does it sense it in some unfathomed way? If a plant is growing between obstructions and cannot see a potential
support it will enerringly grow toward a hidden support, avoiding the area where none exists.
Plants, says France, are capable of intent: They can stretch toward, or seek out, what they want in ways as mysterious as the most fantastice creations of romance.
Far from existing enertly, the inhabitants of the pasture- or what the ancient Hellenes called botane-appear to be able to perceive and to react to twhat is happening in their environment at a level of sophistication far surpassing that of humans.
The sundew plant will grasp at a fly with infallible accuracy, moving in just the right direction toward where the prey is to be found. Some parasitical plants can recognize the slightest trace of the odor of their victim, and will overcome all obstacles to crawl in its direction.
Plants seem to know which ants will steal their nectar, closing when these ants are about, opening only when there is enough dew on their stems to keep the ants from climbing. The more sophisticated acacia actually enlists the protective services of certain ants which it rewards
with nectar in return for the ants' protection against other insects and herbivorous mammals.
is it chance that plants grow into special shpes to adapt to the idiosyncrasies of insects which will pollinate them, luring these insects with special color and fragrance, rewarding them with their favorite nectar, devising extraordinary canals and floral machingery with chich to ensnare a be so as to release it through a trap door only when the
pollination process in completed?
Is it really nothing but a reflex or coincidence that a plant such as the orchid trichoceros parviflorus will grow its petals ito imitate the female of a species of fly so exactly that the male attempts
to mate with it and in so doing pollinates the orchid? Is it pure chance that night-blossoming flowers grow white the better
To protect themselves plants develop thornes, a bitter taste, gummy secretions that catch and kill unfriendly insects. the timorous Mimosa pudica has a mechanism which reacts whenever a beetle or an ant or a worm crawls up its stem toward its delicate leaves:
as the intruder touches a spur the stem raises, the leaves fold up, and the assailant is either rolled off the branch by the unexpected movement or is obliged to draw back in fright.
Some plants, unable to find nitrogen in swampy land, obtain it by devouring living creatures. There are more than five hundred varieties of carnivorous plants, eating any kind of meat from insect to beef, using endlessly cunning methods to capture their prey, from tntacles to sticky hairs to funnel-like traps. The tentacles of carnivorous plants are not only mouths but stomachs raised on poles iwth which to seize and eat their prey
, to digest both meat and blood, and leave nothing but a skeleton.
Insect-devouring sundews pay no attention to pebbles, bits of metal, or other foreign substances placed on their leaves, but are quick to sense the nourishment to be derived from a piece of meat. Darwin found that the sundew can be excited when a piece of thread is laid on it weighing no more than 1/78,000 of a grain. A tendril, which next to the rootlets
constitutes the most sensitive portion of a plant, will bend if a piece of sil thread is liad across it weighing but.00025 of a gram.
The ingenuity of plants in devising forms of construction far exceeds that of human engineers. Man-mad structures cannot match the supply strength of the long hollow tubes that support fantastic weights
against terrific storms. A plant's use of fibers wrapped in spirals is a mechansism of great resistance against tearing not yet developed by human ingenuity.
Cells elongate into sausages or flat ribbons locked on to the other to form almost unbreakable cords. As a tree grows upward it scientifically thickens to support the greater weight.
The Australian eucalyptus can raise its head on a slim trunk above the ground 480 feet, or as high as the Great Pyramid of Cheops, and certain walnuts
can hold a harvest of 100,000 nuts. The Virginia knotweed can tie a sailor's knot which is put to such a strain when it dries that it snaps, hurling the seeds to germinate as far as possible from mother.
Plants are even sentient to orientation and to the future. Fronteirs-men and hunters in the prairies of the Mississippi Valley discovered a sunflower
plant, Silphium laciniatum, whose leaves accurately indicate the points of the compass. Indian licorice, or Arbrus precatorius, is so keenly sensitive to all forms of electrical and magnetic influences it is used
as a weather plant. Botanist who first experimented with it in London's Kew Gardens found i int a means for predicting cyclones, hurricanes, tonadoes, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
So accurate are alpine flowers about the season, they know when spring is coming and bore their way up through lingering snowbanks, developing their own heat with which to melt the snow.
Plants which react so certainly, so variously, and so promptly to the outer world, must, sys France, have some means of communicating with the outer world, something comparable or superior to our senses.
France insists that plants are constantly observing and recording events and phenomena of which man-trapped in his anthropocentric view of the world, subjectively revealed to him through his five sense- knows nothing.
Whereas plants have been almost universally looked upon as senseless automata, they have now been found to be able to distinguish between sounds inaudible to the human ear and color wavelengths such as infrared and ultraviolet invisible to the human eye;
they are specially sensitive to x-rays and to the high frequency of television.
The whole vegetal world, says France, lives responsive tot the movement of the earth and its satellite moon, to the movement of the other planets of our solar system, and one day will be shown to be affected by the stars and other cosmic bodies in the universe.
As the external form of a plant is kept a unit and restored whenever part of it is destroyed, France assumes here must be some concious entity supervising the entire form, some intelligence directing the plant, either from within, or from without.
Over half a century ago France, who believed plants to be possessed of all the attributes of living creatures including "the most violent reaction against abuse and most ardent gratitude for favors," could have written a Secret Life of Plants,
but what he had already put into print was either ignored by the establishment or considered heretically shocking. What shocked them most was his suggestion that the awareness of plants might originate in a supramaterial world of cosmic beings to which, long before the birth of Christ, The Hindu sages referred as "devas," and which, as fairies, elves, gnomes, sylphs and
a host of other creature were a matter of direct vision and experience to clairvoyant among the celts and other sensitives.
IT is incomplete but only missing a paragraph I'll posted it later.
I'll be posting one chapter after another. Its very interesting.
This was interesting read, but it still doesn't help me from hating the fact that my mother has too many of them in the house.
Old copy-pasta is tasty
Accept that some days you're the pigeon and some days you're the statue.
bah, this hippy sentient plant life theory is kind of absolutely ridiculous, interesting as a fantasy or escapism as some kind of benevolent version of The Happening, but not a whole lot else.
Responding to outside stimulus is not a basis for being sentient. Plants collect nutrients; does that mean they're hungry? Would they prefer a steak if you gave them the option? I know I'm oversimplifying, but seriously, come on.