I was pleased when Nathan Fearn, Derbyshire Life’s Editor, recently invited me to build on the ‘Plants that have changed our lives’ series that has appeared in the magazine since August 2017 with a new plant-related series. For me, this generous offer provided me with an opportunity to indulge myself in exploring a subject that has intrigued me for years, tentatively called ‘plant intelligence’.
Intelligent Plants? Take away the question mark and most people would say that it’s an oxymoron. But let’s go back to basics and resort to the highly respectable Concise Oxford Dictionary for some definitions.
‘Intelligence: the intellect, understanding’ – not very helpful.
‘Intellect: the faculty of reasoning, knowing and thinking’ – a bit more helpful.
‘Reasoning’ - no, I’m going to stop there.
The problem is that the wise people (notice I said ‘people’)who assembled dictionaries never entertained the idea that intelligence could possibly have anything to do with plant life.
The biologist Lyall Watson, in his 1973 book Supernature, tells the following intriguing story. On a February morning in 1966 Cleve Backster, a polygraph (lie detector) specialist with the American CIA, connected his machine up on a whim to the leaves of a dragon tree plant (Dracaena marginata) in his office to see if the polygraph would register a reading when he subjected the plant to stress.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Peak National Park and Ride
Andrew Griffihs asks what the future holds for transport in the Peak National Park and talks to Julian Glover about his Landscapes Review
Mike Smith explores the village of Bradbourne, which has a particularly poignant tale to tell
What lies beneath
Exploring the hidden depths of Ladybower Reservoir, which conceals secrets of a fascinating past
Battle for our birds
Paul Hobson analyses our complex relationship with birds of prey and how these fascinating birds are fairing in Derbyshire
Explore the Peak Forest
A walk through autumn fields and forests with far reaching views enriched by snippets of mystery, romance and the area’s industrial past
Pictures to transport you
Chesterfield photographer David Keep continues his photographic journey, this time recalling his favourite landscape images from around the world
The magic of Christmas
Ideas for days out, gifts and where to find local produce in Derbyshire this festive season
PENNY for the Guy
We take a look at Derbyshire’s bonfire tradtions through history
From hardship came happiness
Pat Ashworth speaks with Chesterfield based retired Colonel John Doody about his inspiring life, from a diffiult childhood to overcoming diversity and finding happiness
A place to call home
Lady Edward explains to Derbyshire Life why Haddon Hall is so much more than 900 years of history