Why that’s so difficult for us to accept – and why we should give them a second look.
In an essay for The New Yorker entitled “The Intelligent Plant,” food writer Michael Pollan explored the evidence that plants exhibit intelligent behavior, and the scientific community’s debate over accepting it. Most plant scientists seem to accept that plants exhibit intelligent behavior, such as remembering events, knowing their position in relation to other objects, hearing, communicating with and sharing nutrients with relatives, and in general making “decisions” based on the complex set of information they sense from the environment around them. (For example, plants will “reroute” their root growth away from an obstacle even before they reach it.) What’s more abrasive for scientists than accepting the evidence, Pollan argues, is grappling with how to interpret it, and what it means about how we label plants. Maybe even more disturbing though, are the questions plant intelligence bring up in terms of how we label ourselves in relation to the world around us.