Review on the BBC’s “How Plants Communicate and Think” documentary

Over billions of years, plants have been evolving to better suit their environment, forming into complex and diverse organisms that have not nearly been studied enough. I chose this documentary because I found it to be a compelling realm of science that is not yet widely acclaimed and will be a strong basis of plant ecology once more evidence is brought to light. With scientific evidence proving that all life evolved from a single celled organism, it is interesting to think that many people, including scientists, are closed minded about the idea of plants having very similar attributes as us. With common genes found in plants and animals, similar reactions to stimuli and an obvious yet still widely debated sense of memory and intelligence, it is quite clear that plants act as great competitors within the argument of which living kingdom is superior.

Even within the realistic realm of science, philosophical ideas must also be acknowledged in order to analyze all aspects and generate more accurate answers. A philosophical component was also seen in this documentary. Are we at liberty to define what intelligence is? We define it as capacity to react to the environment through social behaviour as well as being able to retain memory and react to stimuli appropriately. The more studies that are done on plants, the more scientists realize the intelligence of plants. Unless more studies are done, we will never know the capacity of intelligence that plants have. Intelligence comes in many different ways, and with plants it is likely something we do not completely understand. Examples of complex interactions in this video include the African acacia, which creates cyanogenic poison to deter predators. This tree is also able to release ethylene gas into the air, which warns other parts of the tree as well as surrounding acacia’s that there are predators present and to increase the toxins within. A similar phenomenon can be seen with other plant species, which proves that plants do have a form of communication with one another. Another example is of the “dancing plant”. This plant is known to move towards certain types of vibrations, such as music. This perplexes scientists since there is no evolutionary advantage as to why they would do this. They even gain memory of their movements and dance better overtime. This creates the very intriguing and yet taboo question of, “Do plants have thoughts and feelings?” With scientific evidence proving that many plants are more evolved than humans, this question should not be so ludicrous.

I believe this documentary can widen the perception of many people on the connectedness of all living things. It is important for continuous analyses on the relationship that surrounds the intelligence and senses of plants, in order for humans to understand the ontological need of protecting plant species. In addition, with a greater understanding of every aspect within plant ecology, comes more knowledge on the complexities of the interactions within our ecosystems, and a greater ability to solve problems within them.

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