What A Plant Knows

What A Plant Knows

A Field Guide to the Senses

Book - 2012
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How does a Venus flytrap know when to snap shut? Can it actually feel an insect's tiny, spindly legs? And how do cherry blossoms know when to bloom? Can they actually remember the weather?

For centuries we have collectively marveled at plant diversity and form--from Charles Darwin's early fascination with stems to Seymour Krelborn's distorted doting in Little Shop of Horrors . But now, in What a Plant Knows , the renowned biologist Daniel Chamovitz presents an intriguing and scrupulous look at how plants themselves experience the world--from the colors they see to the schedules they keep. Highlighting the latest research in genetics and more, he takes us into the inner lives of plants and draws parallels with the human senses to reveal that we have much more in common with sunflowers and oak trees than we may realize. Chamovitz shows how plants know up from down, how they know when a neighborhas been infested by a group of hungry beetles, and whether they appreciate the Led Zeppelin you've been playing for them or if they're more partial to the melodic riffs of Bach. Covering touch, sound, smell, sight, and even memory, Chamovitz encourages us all to consider whether plants might even be aware of their surroundings.

A rare inside look at what life is really like for the grass we walk on, the flowers we sniff, and the trees we climb, What a Plant Knows offers us a greater understanding of science and our place in nature.

Publisher: New York : Scientific American/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780374288730
Branch Call Number: 571.2 CHAMOVIT
Characteristics: 177 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm.


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Dec 30, 2019

Sense by sense, the author's narrative transforms the way the reader views the ways plants view the world. A good and engaging introduction to the sensory world of plants.

Feb 08, 2019

Yes, good science. Fascinating reading. It fills a gap. However the book itself has a big gap. There is a large body of scientific studies about how plants respond to browsing and to insects. Plants may "know" they are being browsed and respond. Chamovitz more or less ignores this topic.

Jun 28, 2016

This is one of the most fascinating and enlightening science books I have read in a while. From classic botanical experiments to recent findings in genetics and biochemistry, this book discusses a plethora of astounding information. If you are passionate about biology you will love this book.

Mar 23, 2015

Do you talk to your plants? Well, they may be able to hear you. Learn more about how plants experience the world than you may have thought possible.

Mar 29, 2014

Interesting concept but the book itself is pretty boring-I doubt I will finish it

Aug 06, 2013

The title is provocative but accurate. Most of what humans know is electrical mediated by biochemistry; most of what a plant knows is biochemical with some use of electricity for communication. If you believe as I do that a wall thermostat displays one bit of consciousness (the minimum amount), this book shows that plants are indeed conscious, even self-conscious to a degree.

An excellent summary of the topic and more readable than most biology books.

Jun 11, 2013

Good good good.
The Publisher's Weekly review on the library's web site, "...the book is unlikely to appeal to nonbotanists," is hogwash.

NewYorkViews Jan 02, 2013

This could have easily been a five-star book if the publisher would have given more to style in content. The plant pictures are light drawings not color plates, missing are several introductory sentences such as the numbers of species of plants, different types (aquatic, land, desert, etc). In the chapters, are missing introductory sentences such as the number of chemicals for plant defences, and more than just one example (i.e., protection for pathogens, but not ozone?). The ultilization of one plant study of tomatoes to cover many different species is not really thrilling. The Venus Flytrap, but not also the Pitcher Plant... The book could still be quaintly small with just a little more work on adding a few sentences and color plates and photos. It is also too modernly eurocentric, a bit more indigenous worldwide material could have been added--a few more sentences. Not explained is whether plants feel pain in a different way--this is left open only sometimes but not resolute--as plants are still a mystery. Other than these quibbles, it is great that several issues of a plant's knowledge are discussed in an easy-to-read style.

Dec 09, 2012

Interesting and light read! Recommended for plant lovers. I liked the part the best about the predator plant sniffing around for tomato plants to attack.


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