Although we are totally dependent on plants, for many of us urbanization has meant an increased alienation from the natural world.
Our attention may be briefly gained by the urban fox or hedgehog scuttling around our bins, but plants seem relatively dull beyond the beauty of their flowers. In What a Plant Knows, Daniel Chamovitz shows that plants are in fact, far more complex and aware of their surroundings than most of us give them credit for. He clearly explains what scientists have learnt about how plants can see, smell, feel, know which way is up, and even remember certain events; from why plants can get jet lag to how a Venus flytrap knows when to shut. While a plant’s senses differ to ours and they cannot be thought of as intelligent in the human sense, Chamovitz shows how their awareness of the world around them is a fascinating subject.
What a Plant Knows is a welcome addition to the popular science genre, which often seems the sole preserve of physics or the social sciences. It is a reminder of how plants – so near at hand – really are amazing. Readers may not all become amateur botanists over night, but they will inevitably be encouraged to give a bit more thought to what plants know, and may even be tempted to add a Venus flytrap to their office desk (or at least a spider plant).