Are plants conscious?

This is well worth a read. “Are plants conscious?” the story asks.

Ground with mullein
Ground with mullein

If I could rewrite the headline it would be, instead, “How are plants conscious?” I love some of the evidence given for “yes”:

“It is another question whether plants are self-conscious. Before dismissing the existence of this higher-level faculty in them outright, we should consider what a plant self might be. Plants are only loosely integrated into a unity (take a cutting from a magnolia stem, and it will grow independently!). It stands to reason that their sense of self would be equally dispersed. Quite often, in fact, parts of a plant subject to danger (e.g., the leaves invaded by unwelcome insects) will communicate the threat by releasing airborne biochemical substances to other parts of the same plant. The project of an ongoing vegetal integration through feedback loops and other communication strategies and mechanisms may be considered analogous to what we, humans, define as self-consciousness.”

And:

“Indeed, plants perceive self and non-self and allocate resources differently when they encounter tissues of these two types. Plants differentiate the quality of shade cast by a green competitor and respond more strongly to this threat than to an inanimate object. Plants anticipate future conditions and respond to the light cast by competitors before actually being shaded.”

All beings have different ways of sensing. We can’t echolocate; that might mean bats would consider us sadly unconscious.

 

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