20 September 2012

Vegetable love

Rob Dunn has a nice essay on the glory and diversity of leaves.

The Book of Barely Imagined Beings largely focuses on heterotrophs, but autotrophs are equally astonishing. Montaigne's words should not be forgotten:
There is a kind of respect and a duty in man...which link[s] us not merely to the beasts, which have life and feelings, but even to trees and plants.
And I like this from the conclusion of What a Plant Knows by Daniel Chamovitz:
A shared genetic past does not negate eons of evolution. While plants and humans maintain parallel abilities to sense and be aware of the physical world, the independent paths of evolution have led to a uniquely human capacity, beyond intelligence, that plants don't have: the ability to care.
So the next time you find yourself on a stroll through a park, take a second to ask yourself: What does the dandelion in the lawn see? What does the grass smell? Touch the swooping branches of a beech, knowing that the tree will remember it was touched. But it won't remember you. You, on the other hand, can remember that particular tree and carry the memory of it with you forever.
Elsewhere, Ed Yong considers whether humans will ever photosynthesize like plants.

Photo: Viburnum leaf by Michael Melford

See also The brotherhood of men and cabbages

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