"Are Plants Intelligent? If So, What Does That Mean for Your Salad?"

"A new book, “The Light Eaters,” looks at how plants sense the world and the agency they have in their own lives."

"Zoë Schlanger was a reporter covering climate change — a daily onslaught of floods, fires and other natural disasters — when she started wading into botany journals to relax.

There, she found something that surprised her: Researchers were debating whether plants might have an intelligence of their own.

Take corn, for example. It is one of several types of plants that can identify a caterpillar’s species by its saliva and send out plumes of chemical compounds into the air, summoning the insect’s predator. Alerted to the caterpillar’s presence by these compounds, a parasitic wasp arrives and destroys it, protecting the corn.

“One of the big debates is whether or not there’s any form of intention with plants and whether you need intention for something to have intelligence,” Schlanger said. “But one could argue that it doesn’t even matter if you can find intention in plants. What matters is watching what they actually do. And what they do is make decisions in real time and plan for the future.”"

Elizabeth A. Harris reports for the New York Times May 13, 2024.


"A New Book About Plant Intelligence Highlights the Messiness of Scientific Change" (New Yorker)

Source: NYTimes, 06/17/2024