Seamless, A Garland

carracciAnnibale Carracci (1560 – 1609)

 

Alchemy

Chlorophyll C55H72N4O5Mg
differs from human blood
only by substitution of one
atom of magnesium
in philodendron
for the single atom of iron
in Keats.


Stephen Sandy

 

 

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Small Sounds

hoef caterpillar

Many scientific reports show inexplicable behaviours of plants that seem to be analogs to animal senses, behaviours, and perhaps even intellect.

This observation of complex behaviour in plants would seem to be impossible given the fact that plants don’t have the diversification of their bodies and biology into sensory organs, nervous systems, and brains, but the facts remain.

“Plants certainly have the capacity to feel mechanical loads,” said plant biologist Frank Telewski, who was not involved in the research. “They can respond to gravity, wind, ice or an abundance of fruit.”

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri, in a collaboration that brings together audio and chemical analysis, have proven that plants hear sounds.

“Previous research has investigated how plants respond to acoustic energy, including music,” said Heidi Appel, senior research scientist in the Division of Plant Sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and the Bond Life Sciences Center at MU.
When pure tones are played, some experiments have seen changes in plant growth, germination or gene expression. For instance, one recent study showed that young roots of corn will grow toward an auditory source playing continuous tones and even responded better to certain frequencies.

“However, our work is the first example of how plants respond to an ecologically relevant vibration. We found that feeding sounds of caterpillars attacking plants signal changes in the plant cells’ metabolism, creating more defensive chemicals that can repel attacks from caterpillars.”

It is similar to how our own immune systems work — an initial experience with insects or bacteria can help plants defend themselves better in future attacks by the same predator. So while a mustard plant might not respond the first time it encounters a hungry caterpillar, the next time it will.

A deeper investigation could lead to advances in agriculture and natural crop resistance — and we could avoid harmful pesticides.

“What is remarkable is that the plants exposed to different vibrations, including those made by a gentle wind or different insect sounds that share some acoustic features with caterpillar feeding vibrations did not increase their chemical defenses,” Cocroft said. “This indicates that the plants are able to distinguish feeding vibrations from other common sources of environmental vibration.”

“Both animal and vegetable has in common a billion years of evolution. Just why we insist on believing that only certain animal life found sentience a useful evolutionary path is beyond me. This thing we like to think of as our unique sentience is in fact not at all unique rather it is just the opposite.
We are not alone.”
Russ George

http://russgeorge.net/2014/07/01/plants-hear-sounds/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/can-plants-hear-study-finds-that-vibrations-prompt-some-to-boost-their-defenses/2014/07/06/8b2455ca-02e8-11e4-8fd0-3a663dfa68ac_story.html

 

Herbal Intelligence
What Plants Perceive
The Knowledge of Vegetables
Trees Cry Out

 

Popular Science Monthly, July 1873

beechTHE LONGEVITY OF TREES.
By Elias Lewis

IN the vegetable world, limits of growth and life are strangely diversified. Multitudes of forms mature and perish in a few days or hours; while others, whose beginning was in a remote antiquity, have survived the habitual period of their kind, and still enjoy the luxuriance of their prime. Some species of unicellular plants are so minute that millions occur in the bulk of a cubic inch, and a flowering plant is described by Humboldt, which, when fully developed, is not more than three-tenths of an inch in height. On the other hand, we have the great Sequoia, whose mass is expressed by hundreds of tons, and specimens of the Eucalyptus, growing in the gulches of Australia, surpass in height the dome of St. Peter’s. Some of the Fungi mature between the setting and rising of the sun, while the oak at our door, which awakens the memories of our childhood, has not perceptibly changed in bulk in half a century. Trees grow more slowly as they increase in age. Nevertheless, it is certain that growth continues while they continue to live. The development of foliage implies interstitial activity and organization of new material. In its vital processes there is little expenditure of force or waste of substance. Its functions are essentially constructive, and its growth and age are apparently without limits, excepting such as arise from surrounding conditions. Thus many trees represent centuries, and have a permanence that is astonishing and sublime. Travellers stand awe-struck before the monuments which for forty centuries have kept watch by the Nile, but the oldest of these may not antedate the famous dragon-tree of Teneriffe. It is not surprising that the ancients considered trees “immortal,” or, as “old as Time.” But, if the life of the tree is continuous, its leaves—the organs of its growth—have their periods of decay, and are types of mortality. The life of man is likened to the “leaf that perishes.” In an animal, the vital processes are carried on by a single set of organs, the impairment of which limits the period of its life. With the tree, decay of the organs is followed by constant renovation, and the foliage which covers it the present summer is as new and as young as that which adorned it a hundred or a thousand years ago. . . . The great living monuments of the vegetable kingdom. Fixed to a single spot, the tree is what it is because of the forces which act upon it. It is a monument of accumulated and concentrated force. Transmuted sunlight is in all its fibres, and who shall estimate the dynamic work which has been expended in its structure? Dr. Draper observes that “the beat of a pendulum occupies a second of time; divide that period into a million of equal parts, then divide each of these brief periods into a million of other equal parts, a wave of yellow light daring one of the last small intervals has vibrated 535 times. Yet that yellow light has been the chief instrument in building the tree.” In the delicate texture of its leaves it has overcome molecular force; it has beaten asunder the elements of an invisible gas, and inaugurated a new arrangement of atoms. The old dragon-tree represents forty centuries of this dynamic work—a sublime monument reared without toil by the silent forces of Nature! In the outer air it has awakened every note of sound, from the softest monotone to the rhythmic roar of the tempest; but in its inner chambers has been a murmur and music of life in the ceaseless movement of fluids and marshalling of atoms, as one by one they take their place in the molecular dance, which eludes the dull sense of hearing, and becomes obvious only in results. The veil which hides these ultimate processes of life has not yet been lifted, and Science pauses in waiting before it, but only waits.

. . . .

Trees Cry Out

“Scientists have known for decades that microphones can pick up the sounds that trees make. Now, scientists may have found the key to understanding these particular cries . . . In the lab, a team of French scientists has captured the ultrasonic noise made by bubbles forming inside water-stressed trees  . . . .”

Du Bon Usage Des Arbres

‘“Man is senescent, that is to say is programmed to die, but a plane tree is not,” says French botanist Francis Hallé. After its leaves have fallen, life begins again in the spring and the tree recovers its youthful genomes. If it is not subjected to accidents, diseases or humans, the plane tree could live for centuries . . . .’