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What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses of Your Garden - and Beyond [Paperback]

Daniel Chamovitz
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

22 May 2012

How does a Venus flytrap know when to snap shut? Can an orchid get jet lag? Does a tomato plant feel pain when you pluck a fruit from its vines? And does your favourite fern care whether you play Bach or the Beatles? Combining cutting-edge research with lively storytelling, biologist Daniel Chamovitz explores how plants experience our shared Earth – through sight, smell, touch, hearing, memory, and even awareness. Whether you are a green thumb, a science buff, a vegetarian, or simply a nature lover, this rare inside look at the life of plants will surprise and delight.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (22 May 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851689109
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851689101
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,194 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"What a Plant Knows is lively, eloquent, scientifically accurate, and easy-to-read ... I commend this engaging text to all who wonder about life on Earth, and seek a compelling introduction to the lives of plants revealed through centuries of careful scientific experimentation." --Professor Stephen D. Hopper, Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

"Chamovitz walks the Homo sapiens reader right into the shoes -- or I should say roots -- of the plant world. After reading this book you will never again walk innocently past a plant or reach insensitively for a leaf. You will marvel and be haunted by a plant's sensory attributes and the shared genes between the plant and animal kingdoms." --Elisabeth Tova Bailey, author of The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

"Just like us, a plant that aspires to win the rat race must exploit its environment. Even a daffodil can detect when you're standing in its light, and a rhododendron knows when you're savaging its neighbour with the pruning shears. With deftness and clarity, Chamovitz introduces plants' equivalents of our senses, plus floral forms of memory and orientation. When you realize how much plants know, you may think twice before you bite them!" --Hannah Holmes, author of Suburban Safari

"Just as his groundbreaking research uncovered connections between the plant and animal kingdoms, Daniel Chamovitz's insights in What a Plant Knows transcend the world of plants. You'll see plants in a new light after reading this book." --Gloria Coruzzi, Professor of Biology, New York University

"A fascinating book that explores accessibly the evidence that plants share more properties with animals than most people appreciate. It may come as a relief to vegetarians to learn that plants do not feel pain or suffer, in the human sense, when harvested. Nevertheless, after reading What a Plant Knows, we wanted to apologize to our daffodils for the times when our shadows have shielded them from the Sun." --John and Mary Gribbin, authors of The Flower Hunters

“This lively, accessible and up-to-date account reveals ways in which plants constantly sense their environment… Exhilarating.”
The Garden, the magazine of the Royal Horticultural Society


 ‘In this beautiful reframing of the botanical, [Chamovitz] reveals the extent and kind of that awareness through a bumper crop of research.’ Nature in Brief

Review

'A fascinating book that explores accessibly the evidence that plants share more properties with animals than most people appreciate. It may come as a relief to vegetarians to learn that plants do not feel pain or suffer, in the human sense, when harvested. Nevertheless, after reading What a Plant Knows, we wanted to apologize to our daffodils for the times when our shadows have shielded them from the Sun.' John and Mary Gribbin, authors of The Flower Hunters 'Chamovitz walks the Homo sapien reader right into the shoes - or I should say roots - of the plant world. After reading this book you will never again walk innocently past a plant or reach insensitively for a leaf. You will marvel and be haunted by a plant's sensory attributes and the shared genes between the plant and animal kingdoms.' Elisabeth Tova Bailey, author of The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating 'What a Plant Knows is lively, eloquent, scientifically accurate, and easy-to-read - I commend this engaging text to all who wonder about life on Earth, and seek a compelling introduction to the lives of plants revealed through centuries of careful scientific experimentation.' Professor Stephen D. Hopper, Director, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 'Just as his groundbreaking research uncovered connections between the plant and animal kingdoms, Daniel Chamovitz's insights in What a Plant Knows transcend the world of plants. You'll see plants in a new light after reading this book.' Gloria Coruzzi, Professor of Biology, New York University 'Just like us, a plant that aspires to win the rat race must exploit its environment. Even a rhododendron knows when you're savaging its neighbour with the pruning shears. With deftness and clarity, Chamovitz introduces plants' equivalents of our senses, plus fl oral forms of memory and orientation. When you realize how much plants know, you may think twice before you bite them!' Hannah Holmes, author of Suburban Safari

‘Thick with eccentric plant experiments and astonishing plant science… delightful.’ Sunday Times

'This beautiful reframing of the botanical… reveals the extent and kind of [plant] awareness through a bumper crop of research.'
Nature


"Elegantly written... Chamovitz lets us see plants in a new light, one which reveals their true wonder." Guardian ‘intriguing’ Gardens Illustrated

“This elegantly written account of plant biology will change the way you see your garden… Chamovitz lets us see plants in a new light, one which reveals their true wonder.”
The Guardian

“An intriguing and scientific — but easy to read — look at how plants experience life.”
Gardens Illustrated

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Plant knows - Very interesting read. 3 July 2012
Format:Paperback
This really is an interesting read. It is nothing like the usual flower/plant and garden books. There are some really interesting and thought provoking topics in the book that I couldn't help but keep reading. Did you know flowers can distinguish between light of different colours. If you touch a beech tree it will remember it has been touched. There really are some very interesting facts and points in this book. You will almost definitely learn something new from reading this book. You will view plants in a different way. I also think this would be a great gift for gardeners or people who like the great outdoors. This book certainly goes beyond expectations.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly fascinating 11 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is an absolute revelation without requiring any interest in or knowledge of plants. By the end of the book you have a new found respect for plants and how they behave and cannot help but look at them in a different way. If there was any reminder needed as to how clever nature can be, this book contains the evidence.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent book, and very thought provoking. Couldn't put it down once I started reading it and have bought it for a friend who also finds it very interesting. Based on scientific researches.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting 28 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is well written and notes scientific method. Everything seems reputable and the writer manages to relate a plants life very closely to human life considering how different the two ways of life are. This book is incredibly interesting and the writer has even included a few youtube links to help visualise what he describes - although some of the links are down you can find the same thing by searching for it on youtube as there are multiple similar videos to the ones he gives links to.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought Provoking 15 Aug 2012
By M. D. Holley TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This book is superficially about plants, but for me the main interest is the light it sheds on what it means to be human.

Daniel Chamovitz writes in a very clear, simple and easy to read style. I was able to go through the book from cover to cover in just a few hours.

As he discusses each of a plant's 'senses' (seeing, smelling, touching etc), he always relates the 'sense' technically to what happens in animals, and then shows how similar chemical processes underlie the same 'sense' in plants. It is fascinating to ponder just how closely related animals are to plants, and how much 'awareness' plants somehow have.

The discussion of plants as being in some sense 'aware' is very thought provoking, because plants have no brain or central nervous system. Which leads one to wonder whether animals, including humans, retain plant like 'awareness' apart from their brain in a similar way (my speculation - Chemovitz does not comment on this).

It is clear that a lot remains to be found out about plant life via further research.

This book is not in any way cranky or sensational. The author is very low key and simply outlines recent scientific research. Earlier this year I read Rupert Sheldrake's book 'the Science Delusion' which discusses ideas of consciousness outside of the animal kingdom, among many other zany ideas. Sheldrake is much more of a character than Daniel Chamnovitz and unfortunately some of Sheldrake's science is decidedly flaky and cranky. Daniel Chamovitz, on the other hand, in his low key and methodical way, opens up some robust science in this area, which is very welcome.

Why only fours stars? It's so methodical and low key that I didn't feel overwhelmingly inspired as I do by the very best books. But I still thoroughly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
I read this through in maybe 6 hours on a flight and was fascinated. It was an easy read that updated a lot of the interests I had as a biology student over 30 years ago. Much of the research - relatively easy experiments - about tropisms (plant movements) has been done in the last thirty year and these are expanding our overall grasp of the complex plant - environment interaction.
My only complaint would be that the book is too short - 180 pages but these are short, large print pages - perfect for reading on a plane though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lots of information 6 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is an ideal book for those who would like to begin to understand how plants communicate with their neighbours and the outside world. Plants are not dull static things that sit there at the mercy of their surroundings all that might befall them - they can fight back! I read it all through quite quickly and learned a great deal. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing botanical facts in an easy-to-read format 22 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
How good to find an up-to-date serious book on the amazing botany of plants that is easy to read. I just flowed through it. And learned more about how I may help (or hinder) my own plants.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Interesting look at plants
Published 19 days ago by Mr P Coghlan
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
This is an author I have no read before but book catches you up straight away,real good read and so wonderful in its concept. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Mrs. H. Barnes
5.0 out of 5 stars Good bedtime read
I am a keen gardener and really enjoyed this little book - easy to dip in and out of a great bedtime read
Published 3 months ago by Jan S
3.0 out of 5 stars Okay
Book is good enough but did not find anything I didn't know already, which was a bit of a disappointment.
Published 5 months ago by AMWG
4.0 out of 5 stars Good attempt at popularising an important field of plant research
The chemistry and biochemistry of plant signalling is an important topic for students; this book gives a good explanation for non-specialists.
Published 5 months ago by John Friend
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not enough
The book discusses the idea of senses in your garden, but it is answering the "technical" questions - "how" rather than "why".
Published 6 months ago by Itai Burstein
5.0 out of 5 stars Light hearted
An easy read of a complex subject. I have recommended this book to many people not just those interested in plant biology, but academics as a way to communicate complex ideas in a... Read more
Published 8 months ago by rjmaccowan
5.0 out of 5 stars Textbook to accompany MOOC of the same name on Coursera
The course is absolutely mind opening, and this short book is a good reminder and a useful reference. It's very professionally done and quite surprising. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Peter B. Vos
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am a Biology student yet I think that anyone with very basic scientific knowledge would be able to appreciate, understand and enjoy this book.
Published 10 months ago by Hannah
3.0 out of 5 stars plants carry genes they share with humans!
If you touch a tree and walk away, you will carry the memory of that tree and maybe some emotional connotations, the tree will only remember being touched. Read more
Published 13 months ago by bobity
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