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Masters of Rebirth: The Plant Kingdom

Each spring, we become spectators to a masterful performance; it is a play to stage the “rebirth” of mother nature, which renews itself every year, with plants as lead stars.



Silently, sap valves are turned on inside trees that seem withered all summer, and blood starts recirculating the veins. Then comes a familiar story of colourful flowers and a festival of sweet fragrances. But, do plants enter rebirth only in spring?Following the horrible fires of last summer, don’t we feel a bit relieved to learn that even burnt-down forests can revive themselves? What about the weeds that stubbornly keep heading in the same place, despite being plucked out again and again, on city pavements without an inch of soil, among towering piles of concrete? Clearly, there’s some sort of hidden force, talent - or more accurately - intelligence at play here. Whether you look at the story of Noah with regards to Abrahamic religions or the theories of Darwin and many others from positive science, plants have always been there from the start. Noah, who only saves the animals from

the flood and sets off to look for a new world, learns about a habitable place from an olive branch in the beak of a dove visiting his ark anchored in Agri. And, right after freeing the animals from the ark, Noah plants a vineyard. In Genesis, these two plants - olive and grape - are associated with rebirth. On the other hand, Darwin regards plants as the most extraordinary creatures he has ever encountered. A quote from his autobiography reads, “It has always pleased me to exalt plants in the scale of organised beings.”




INNUMERABLE TALENTS


Plants are irrefutably organised and formidable beings. They are “autotrophic,” i.e. self-sufficient, which means they do not depend on other creatures to survive. Whereas we are dependent on them in every sense of the word - through oxygen which makes life possible thanks to their photosynthetic activity and the food chain at the base of which they are located. They have a myriad of abilities, too, such as the passive resistance they have developed against external attacks due to being sedentary. Thanks to their modular structure, all their organs bear significance but none is indispensable. Even when 90% of a plant is consumed, it can regrow. They have more sensitive versions of our five senses and then some. Take a look at how this mysterious structure, unequipped with ears, can hear: According to a research carried out with the support of the renowned sound system brand Bose, grapevines that have been exposed to music for five years mature much earlier compared to their counterparts without any music to listen to and are observed to have been richer in terms of flavour, colour, and polyphenols. They not only have the ability to feel humidity, gravity, and electromagnetic fields in the soil as well as the chemicals in the air and in the ground, but can also disarm contaminants. What’s more interesting is the roots which, as Darwin realised, have the capacity to make decisions and offer guidance; they are kind of the brain of plants and always have important decisions to make like “[...] grow toward the right and reach the phosphorus it needs so much, or toward the left and reach nitrogen, always in short supply? Grow downward in search of water, or upward where there’s more likely to be good air to breathe? [...] In addition, let’s not forget that on its path the root often encounters obstacles to avoid, or outright enemies (another plant, parasites) which it must ‘dodge’ and defend itself against.”* One cannot help but compare them to our own species and think: What would be different if we could ask these questions to ourselves as individuals and for the sake of the world as a collective?


IT’S HARDLY SURPRISING TO SEE SOMETHING WHICH CAN REVIVE ITSELF TO GIVE LIFE TO OTHER CREATURES. OR THAT ALL MEDICINE IS ORIGINALLY DERIVED FROM PLANTS. WHETHER NATURAL OR CHEMICAL, THE INFORMATION IS ALWAYS RECEIVED FROM PLANTS FOR VARIOUS PURPOSES. EACH YEAR, PLANTS POP UP BASED ON THE REQUIREMENTS OF EACH SEASON.



GRATITUDE TO NATURE


It’s hardly surprising to see something which can revive itself to give life to other creatures. Or that all medicine is originally derived from plants. Whether natural or chemical, the information is always received from plants for various purposes. Each year, plants pop up based on the requirements of each season. It’s no coincidence that we get to find stinging nettle or artichoke in spring and autumn with their cleansing and cell-rejuvenating characteristics that prepare us for the new season; plants that are rich in Vitamin C in winter; or the juiciest delicacies in summer. All of this is just a by-product of the intelligence we’ve discussed so far. And the only thing plants expect in return is respectful gratitude. The tale - or the creation story - Skywoman, which Native American kids hear since the moment of their birth, is a beautiful example of how this sense of gratitude and responsibility is passed down to younger generations: “Long before the world was created, there was an island in the sky inhabited by sky people. One day, a pregnant woman drops through a hole created by an uprooted tree and begins to fall for what seems like eternity. Coming out of darkness, she eventually sees oceans. The animals from this world congregate, trying to understand what they see in the sky. A flock of birds is sent to help her. The birds catch her and gently guide her down onto the back of the Great Turtle. The water animals like otters and beavers have prepared a place for her on the turtle's back. They bring mud from the bottom of the ocean and place it on the turtle's back until solid earth begins to form and increase in size. Turtle’s back becomes Sky Woman’s home and the plants she’s brought down with her from Skyworld, including tobacco and strawberries, are her medicine. She makes a life for herself and becomes the mother of Haudenosaunee life, as we know it today.” (Source: Canadian Museum of History)





Sources: *Stefano Mancuso, Alessandra Viola. Brilliant Green:

The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence.

Island Press, 2015. | Robin Wall Kimmerer. Braiding Sweetgrass:

Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings

of Plants. Milkweed Editions, 2013.


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