Do Plants Have Consciousness?
Last month on our way home to Vancouver from a tour of South Africa, we stopped off in Brazil for a vacation. We eventually found ourselves in a sleepy fishing village about an hour’s drive north of Salvador, enjoying the magnificent beaches and fresh seafood. One day, as we were out walking, Sylvia called excitedly to me. She was gently touching a fern with a twig she had picked up. When the fern was touched all the leaves instantly curled up into a compact, ball-like shape. The plant had obviously developed a system that detected when insects or animals approached it, and this action made it more difficult for them to chew on the leaves.
Seeing this reminded me of being on safari several years earlier where a game ranger pointed out a species of tree that not only reacted to animals eating its leaves, but transmitted signals to other trees of the same species as well. It seems that these particular leaves were very delicate and tasty favourites of the giraffe. So whenever a family of giraffes would begin eating them, within 15 minutes the taste of the leaves would turn sour. What was so interesting, however, was that it was not only the leaves on that particular tree that turned sour, but the leaves on all the identical trees within a half-mile radius! The tree whose leaves were being eaten was able to somehow communicate with the other trees in the area and warn of impending danger.
Does this suggest that plants have consciousness?
It would appear so, and this conclusion is not so out of place considering that many cultures believe absolutely in the power of communicating with plants. Even within our own culture, it is no secret that those with “green thumbs” who work regularly with plants tend to talk to them. There have been numerous studies proving absolutely that an empathetic understanding and psychic connection to plants by a gardener tends to produce larger and healthier plants. The “Findhorn” experiment is one such example where vegetables were grown, sometimes several times their usual size, in very inhospitable ground, using the power of love and encouragement. Talk to anyone who loves gardening, who spends time daily with plants, and you might be surprised to hear what intelligent and well-educated people have to say about the consciousness of plants.
Peter Tompkins wrote a fascinating book called The Secret Life of Plants, which sold over 1 million copies. In it he chronicles how plants communicate with each other as well as with humans. This is not as incredulous as it seems.
The indigenous peoples from around the world, those who live close to the land, have always had a special relationship with nature. Whether it be the North American Indian, the Aboriginal, or the Bushmen of the Kalahari, all the traditional teachings encourage respect and communication with nature. In my travels through Africa I have met and befriended some fascinating Sangomas. These people are the tradition