A Close Encounter with the Leafy Kind

Both plants and animal courses I’ve taken tend to focus on the Earth as a whole and ‘Humans vs The Other Lifeforms Out There” and often represented the big picture of the wild world where things have developed over history. Often, the big picture and general processes have had the emphasis placed upon. Otherwise, the small interactions are often overlooked or used as small examples. The domestication of the wolf into the dog is such an example that I’ve encountered through highschool and university evolutionary/animal biology courses that was often used to portray artificial vs. natural selection or genetic variety in a species. Yet, not often did I see the discussion on the impacts on Humans (which tend to be an important species for us!) and the general effects of the relationship of domestication over time without referring back to larger topics.

I believe this same pattern can be seen in the discussion of plant biology. Often we’ll go over conservation, diversity, ecological benefits, large scale usage in history, etc. but not often have I seen the discussion on the cultivation and usage of plants on a more personal level for humans. For example gardening, or as I ran into a few journal articles, keeping and maintaining house-plants. More specifically, the small-scale effects of house-plants and how they could have some pretty major effects on our lives. I found this a really interesting study on how small changes we could make to ourselves to add the nature we so often study could lead to so many benefits even in our artificial environments.

(Image:http://d16u920cdkkea2.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/house-plants-display-2.jpg)

Plants are something that are definitely looked over often – gardening can be seen as for retired people with weird, older hobbies and houseplants are tacky and take work. Yet there’s something endearing about a plant that one takes care and watches grow, a bit like a pet and at the same time this ‘pet’ allows you to study better and be healthier by just existing in your room.

A journal article I found on plant-associated microbes discussed the positive effects of houseplants as they had unique micro-organisms that were able to filter air and improve the indoor air quality (Berg, et al., 2014) leading to a cleaner living space. Additionally, a paper looking into the psychological benefits of indoor plants as a review found patterns of evidence that these plants reduced one’s overall stress and increased one’s pain tolerance (Bringslimark et al,. 2009).

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(Image:https://appliedplantecology.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/8efe9-1436201625041.jpg)

There are many interactions and benefits from plants and the list could go on and on with different psychological and physiological benefits but I think these examples have the same clear message: Our relationship with nature is one that is very close and deeply impactful on our lives even within our artificial creations. Oh, and also get a houseplant, it’s good for you!

Keep an eye out as I’ll be posting my final blog (which will make this year come full circle with post #1) as well as my Glendon post very soon!

Bye for now!

Ron

References:

Berg, G., Mahnert, A., & Moissl-Eichinger, C. (2014). Beneficial effects of plant-associated microbes on indoor microbiomes and human health? Frontiers in Microbiology, 5. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2014.00015

Bringlismark, T., Hartig, T., & Patil, G. G. (2009, December). The psychological benefits of indoor plants: A critical review of the experimental literature. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29(4), 422-433.

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