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The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behavior

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Do plants have intelligence? Do they have memory? Are they better problem solvers than people? Plant Revolution—a fascinating, paradigm-shifting work that upends everything you thought you knew about plants—makes a compelling scientific case that these and other astonishing ideas are all true.

Plants make up eighty percent of the weight of all living things on earth, and yet it is easy to forget that these innocuous, beautiful organisms are responsible for not only the air that lets us survive, but for many of our modern comforts: our medicine, food supply, even our fossil fuels.

On the forefront of uncovering the essential truths about plants, world-renowned scientist Stefano Mancuso reveals the surprisingly sophisticated ability of plants to innovate, to remember, and to learn, offering us creative solutions to the most vexing technological and ecological problems that face us today. Despite not having brains or central nervous systems, plants perceive their surroundings with an even greater sensitivity than animals. They efficiently explore and react promptly to potentially damaging external events thanks to their cooperative, shared systems; without any central command centers, they are able to remember prior catastrophic events and to actively adapt to new ones.

Every page of Plant Revolution bubbles over with Stefano Mancuso’s infectious love for plants and for the eye-opening research that makes it more and more clear how remarkable our fellow inhabitants on this planet really are. In his hands, complicated science is wonderfully accessible, and he has loaded the book with gorgeous photographs that make for an unforgettable reading experience. Plant Revolution opens the doors to a new understanding of life on earth.

240 pages, Hardcover

First published March 29, 2017

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About the author

Stefano Mancuso

31 books257 followers
Stefano Mancuso is the Director of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology (LINV) in Florence, Italy, a founder of the International Society for Plant Signaling and Behavior, and a professor at the University of Florence. His books and papers have been published in numerous international magazines and journals, and La Repubblica newspaper has listed him among the twenty people who will change our lives.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 274 reviews
Profile Image for David Rubenstein.
801 reviews2,520 followers
May 12, 2018
I love reading science books straight from the scientist who is doing the research--when the book is well-written. And, in this book Stefano Mancuso, the founder of the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology, has written a superb gem. It is a short book, only 256 pages, and many of them are filled with photographs. But in this short space he covers a broad range of topics related to plants.

Now, I have to say that the title and subtitle are somewhat misleading. Plants do not revolt--they are not revolutionaries. But they do evolve, so I would suggest a different title. Also, while their intelligence and behavior is certainly described with surprises galore, that is only in the first half of the book. The second half of the book is equally interesting, but it is more about the lessons that architects and engineers have been taking from the structure of plants.

Mancuso writes about a truly surprising behavior of a vine named boquila trifoliolata. It was discovered only a few years ago, in 2013, that when the vine intertwines with other plants, its leaves change shape, color and size to mimic the leaves of other adjacent plants. A single vine has been found to mimic the leaves of three different close-by plants! But the real question is, how does this plant know what to mimic? Mancuso speculates that it is some sort of visual capability, aided by convex lens structures in the epidermis of its leaves.

I did not realize that the reason for deciduous trees changing color in the fall is still not understood. I always thought that it was because their leaves lose their green-colored chlorophyll. Mancuso claims that it is not due to depletion of chlorophyll, as it costs a lot of energy to change color. Instead, the change in color is intended to show insect predators that the tree is strong, and not to be trifled with.

Mancuso explains that because plants are immobile, they cannot have any single points of failure, in case of a predator eating a valuable organ. Therefore, plants have decentralized their functions. Plants do not have a brain, but nevertheless the respond well to problems, albeit slowly. While animals always respond to problems with movement, plants have root systems that act like a collective brain, a distributed intelligence.

The book makes a few diversions that seem to deviate from the central themes of the book. This is a bit irritating, but always fascinating nonetheless. One such diversion is the discussion about capsicophagous people, who are addicted to eating very hot chili peppers. Mancuso asks the question why people would self-inflict pain, and discusses a couple of interesting possibilities. He favors the hypothesis that people like the rush of endorphins that accompany hot spices, somewhat similar to the "runner's high."

The second half of the book describes how plants have been the inspiration to architects and engineers. For example, the phyllotactic tower is a concept that borrows its inspiration from plants. Some plants space their leaves in an arrangement to maximize their access to light. A swarm of plantoids--robots inspired by plants--have been proposed to explore and map the soils of Mars and other applications.

You can read this book in a few hours, and become inspired by the great variety of topics discussed in this book. The book does not hold together on a single theme, except for the incredible wonders of plants, that normally we don't think about.

Note: This review was of a pre-publication copy of the book, sent to me by the publisher.
Profile Image for Cheri.
1,712 reviews2,237 followers
April 7, 2021

“We lived on a street where the tall elm shade
Was as green as the grass and as cool as a blade
That you held in your teeth as we lay on our backs
Staring up at the blue and the blue stared back

“I used to believe we were just like those trees
We'd grown just as tall and as proud as we pleased
With our feet on the ground and our arms in the breeze
Under a sheltering sky”

--Only a Dream, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Songwriters: Mary Chapin Carpenter

A few times in the past few years, I have been surprised by reading a book that I was worried would be too dry, too technical, too bogged down in facts and lacking any entertainment value. At the beginning of this year, I read a book I had mild trepidations about, ”The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries From a Secret World,” so when I was offered a copy of this book to read, I was hopeful it would be as enchanting a book as that was.

Addressing some previously held, challenged beliefs, such as why leaves change colour in autumn, the formerly held belief being that it was due to a “trivial side effect of chlorophyll degradation, the process of which reveals other colors that until then were masked by the green.” A newer theory formulated by William Hamilton of Oxford University proposed that “deciduous trees make an effort to produce brilliant autumn coloring in order to emit a so-called honest signal, that is, a message of the strength directed at aphids. And the more obvious the effort to emit this message, the more reliable it is.” He likens this to the behavior of certain kinds of gazelles that ”start jumping on the spot like a spring instead of trying to escape.” But, essentially, these are both messages sent to pronounce their strength and vigor. Nature’s warning.

This delves into the decreasing resources of our planet, and why understanding where we are headed is paramount to planning for our future, and for the future of those to come. Water, alone, is something that needs to be considered. We, every living being, needs freshwater - humans, plants, animals - which, essentially is very little, percentage-wise, of the water on our planet. In a little over 30 years from now, the population with be doubled what it was in 1960.

Still, there is so much more included in this book, from facts, past research and future plans, to insights into plants, and the love of plants, I was completely engaged, enlightened, and even entertained. The gorgeous photographs added so much to not only the importance of what he was sharing, but in some cases showed me things that I could have only imagined, otherwise. I loved that Mancuso’s sharing of his knowledge was infused with his enthusiasm for the topic, and his love of plants and his research.

Stefano Mancuso is a founder and leading authority in the study of plant neurobiology, a field that explores signaling and communication at every level of biological organization, as well as a professor at the University of Florence, Italy. After finishing reading this, I watched one of his TED talks and was completely engaged in that, as well. Despite his background and knowledge, this isn’t an overly demanding read, and I loved his chatty conversational tone throughout this extraordinary book.


Published: 28 AUG 2018

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Atria Books
Profile Image for Claudia.
947 reviews524 followers
December 2, 2018
Lots of interesting facts about plants, not widely known because they are not completely understood even by scientists. Among them intelligence, vision and memory, all supported by research and examples of behavior, some of them truly amazing, such as mimicry.

There are also parallels with architecture, robotics and other branches in which plants were used as inspiration. Their evolution is also nothing less of fascinating, not to mention their contribution for our survival and development.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Jen .
2,500 reviews27 followers
September 23, 2018
I really need to stop reading non-fiction books about things that end up being food, because I get a horrid complex about eating other living things, such as pigs, chickens, etc. I thought I would be safe with reading about plants. WRONG!! They seem to have rudimentary vision, can think to a degree and can mind control ants and goodness knows what else by manipulation and deception. So not only worried they can feel and get upset, but also kind of creepy too. Horror fans take note!

This book was very informative, but I didn't have all of the works cited and notes that I would have liked with this. Footnotes would have been AWESOME, but it was not to be.

Some REALLY cool concepts at the end of the book, such as the self-sustainable, floating food growing Jellyfish Barge (which no investor seems to want to invest in. I guess feeding the hungry masses isn't good enough for them to put money into it.) and the robots created using plants as the basis for them. I would have loved to have read more about that. Also, doing experiments in zero G on the "Vomit Comet" is something I have always dreamed of (well, zero G in space, not on the "Vomit Comet", but close enough.) was also immensely interesting. Who says science can't be fun?

Very good book. 3.5 stars, because I wanted more notes/footnotes, rounded up to 4, because very interesting way to look at plants and to learn from them.

Oh, as with all non-fiction, there are a few bits where the whole "humans are really only good at killing/destroying things" comes out. Humankind has does some wonderful things, but we have also done some pretty crappy things too. This book doesn't shy away from the bad, as well as getting into the good.

Definitely recommended to those interested in nature. I would say this could work for YA on up. Maybe even the precocious middle reader.

My thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for an eARC copy of this book to read and review.
Profile Image for Joseph Spuckler.
1,508 reviews19 followers
March 27, 2021
Wow, this book makes changes your outlook on plants. We like to think we (animal kingdom members) are problem solvers compared to plants we handle problems by running away. Animals evolved to a flight or fight strategy or simple avoid threats. Plants are literally rooted and they actually have to create solutions to their threats. Some developed poisons to keep threats away. Others attacked their enemies with their enemy’s enemy. Aphids eat you? Then create a sugary sap to attract ants to take care of the aphids. Ants don’t stick around, well maybe make the sap addictive to keep them coming back.

We think of plants as simple organisms. They are far more complex than we ever thought. How do plants know when to leaf in the spring. How can some plants mimic the leave of other plants. Much of this book seems almost like science fiction rather than science. Quantum mechanics may be strange, but plants are certainly runners up.
Profile Image for Sue Burke.
Author 44 books615 followers
January 30, 2019
Stefano Mancuso, an authority on plant neurobiology, begins by showing how plants can remember things, although they don’t have a brain. They can move, although they have no muscles. They can imitate items in their surroundings like stones or other plants, although we don’t think they can see. It’s clear that plants pay scrupulous attention to their environment. He describes the ways plants do all this in an entertaining and easy-to-understand way.

Then, in Chapter 4, he pulls these abilities together by stressing the differences between plants and animals. Beings that can move (animals) tend to avoid problems. If the sun is too hot, animals try to find shade. If something wants to eat the animal, it runs away. Beings that are rooted in place (plants) have to solve problems. Beings with brains and other central organs can react faster, but that also makes them more vulnerable. Decapitate an animal and it’s dead. Chop off a branch of a tree, and the tree carries on. Beings with dispersed problem-solving abilities may react more slowly, but they’re more resilient.

How can a being with no central intelligence solve complex problems? Mancuso suggests that plants act more like flocks of birds: each part, each cell, reacts to its environment, and the changes in the cell and changes in the environment affect the other parts of the plant around it. Together, the plant acts as a coordinated whole. He offers several ways for decentralized intelligence to work in order to reach what looks to us like a decision.

He goes on to describe the ways that plants manipulate animals, the lessons we can learn from plants in fields like architecture and robotic design, and how plants respond to weightlessness.

I received this book as a gift, and I lingered over the stunning photos. Plants are beautiful, and the presence of plants seems to soothe human beings.

Most of all, Mancuso’s love for plants permeates the text – and his respect for them. By weight, the vast majority of life on Earth is plants. They are master problem-solvers, he says, and we can learn from them how to solve some of our own problems.
Profile Image for Benjamin L. .
53 reviews9 followers
March 20, 2020
The central thesis of ‘The Revolutionary Genius of Plants,’ at least as presented by the marketing, is that plants are intelligent, behavioural agents. Unfortunately, the book falls short of providing convincing evidence for this, and a lot of the arguments are confused and contradictory.
Before I dig into my review, I want to make a few things clear. I am a neurophysiologist by training, and I’m very familiar with the plant intelligence literature. Both personally and professionally, I’m very sympathetic to thesis that plants are ‘intelligent’ systems. I mention this because I want to be clear that I criticize the book from a position of familiarity with the science, ultimately, agreeing with the thesis – not from one of dismissal, or undue scepticism.

Unfortunately, the book bumps into credibility problems almost immediately. As the opening chapter seeks to set the stage for showing plants are intelligent by focusing on evidence that plants exhibit memory, the author refuses to define either intelligence or memory and, in doing so, rather cheekily avoids commitment to any particular concept and sets up the precedence to dance around criticism by accusing critics of being too reductionist. This begins on the first page, where the author accuses the literature of avoiding an open conversation about plant intelligence, stating "When discussing plants ... other terms are usually used: acclimatisation, hardening, priming, conditioning, all of them linguistic acrobatics coined ... to avoid the use of the comfortable and simple memory" [Page 5, my edition]. This is an incredibly disingenuous statement: all the mentioned terms are, in fact, used throughout neuroscience when referring to animals, not just in discussions of plants. These terms each have a very specific meaning – some related to memory in a broader sense – others in reference to different computational principles. Acclimatisation, for example, refers to the tendency of a system (a whole organism, or a neuron) to reduce its response to (i.e, ignore) a continued stimulus – think about the way you tune-out the sound of an air conditioner that has been on throughout the day. These words are not used to avoid talking openly about intelligence – they are used because they have precise meanings, and in science precision of language is important.

The next few chapters focus on movement and mimicry in plants, and make some very similar errors as the above. For brevity I’m not going to call out each in succession – just the broader pattern; The Revolutionary Genius of Plants, at best, is very confused by scientific terminology and concepts. At worst, it’s wilfully misunderstanding.

As a short aside, the chapter on mimicry provides the perfect example for another issue with the book. It is beautifully illustrated – with lots of high-quality images printed in the text, but they rarely serve to enhance understanding. For example, in a section describing the ability of one particular species of plant to mimic the shape, colour, and pattern of the leaves of the plants around it would have been wonderfully served by images showing the actual mimicry, but there are none. At several occasions in the book I wished for a picture to illustrate or exemplify the point, but pictures – though nice – seemed inserted randomly, based on an i-stock image search of words on the page.

However, casual misuse of semantics is not my biggest issue with the first half of the book. For each topic covered, the author martials some very simple experimental evidence to prove plants exhibit some behaviour or other. I have no quarrel with these experiments (though most are very simplistic, and on greater thought, don’t quite prove the claims the author makes. Many I would consider supporting evidence, but not sufficient). My broader disappointment is that there is little attempt to probe into a deeper understanding of the topics. Instead, the text reads like a series of summaries of unrelated experiments, each paragraph trying to one-up the last in a competition of ‘See what weird thing plants can do?’ There is no synthesis, no drive to underlying principles, no attempt to ask how (in a mechanistic sense) or why (in a teleological sense) the observed phenomena can occur.

As an example, consider the mimicry phenomena described in the aside above. How does a plant ‘know’ what its neighbours look like? The author rather flippantly suggests that the plant may have a kind of visual system – that they are literally able to see the plants around them, derive from such a visual input the shapes, patterns, and colours of those nearby plants, and then transform this information into a set of instructions on how to achieve the mimicry. This is a fantastic claim – I should know more than most, my subspecialty of neurophysiology is the visual system – but it is made in pure speculation, with no further exploration of the implications, questions, or issues the theory brings up. I’ll spare the reader of my full thoughts on the hypothesis and I’ll admit I’ve not yet read the academic literature on the theory (I would love to be proven wrong in my scepticism), but the point of my criticism is the book should give a comprehensive (if not in as fine a minutiae as an academic report) view of the theory. A scientist writing a book for the public has a responsibility to present the science in a clear and accurate way, but this is something The Revolutionary Genius of Plants seems to have abdicated.

About halfway through the book, Mancuso gets on to building something of a unifying thesis – and here again we run into big trouble. The central argument of Mancuso’s thesis is that the main difference between plant and animal intelligence is one of distribution. Plants, so the claim goes, have distributed intelligence, while animals have intelligence centralised in a single organ, the brain. Already this is a gross oversimplification and a false dichotomy; Plants do indeed have functionally specialised organs: Roots, leaves, stems, and reproductive organs are all spatiotemporally distributed for certain functions and microenvironments – plants rarely grow photosynthetic leaves under the ground. Mancuso is aware of this, and posits that plant intelligence is centralised (See the cracks?) in the root system, a highly distributed network of cells that sense, integrate, and store information.

It is here that the comparison to the brain is at its most absurd, and most humorous; not in the least because I am reminded of a similar comparison that has played out in computer science, but in that case the brain is the distributed network. The fault of Mancuso’s argument is one of scale: it’s unfair to compare the distributed microarchitecture of a root system with the centralised macro-architecture of the vertebrate brain (To say nothing of the highly distributed macro-architecture observed in some invertebrates). Comparing like-to-like, both the roots and brain are relatively centralised organs, with highly distributed micro-architecture. Ironically, this seems to play better into the thesis of the book than the original claim, since a common axiom of biology is 'Similar form; similar function,' but that seems lost. Even more bizarrely, the bulk of the chapter on distributed intelligence – rather than building up a framework for interpreting the physiology of roots in a computational framework, something necessary to posit intelligence – focuses on distributed intelligence in animals (… with brains.) Ants and Bees are discussed, and I completely agree with Mancuso’s suggestion that they provide evidence for computational and intellect-ability in distributed system, it just seems a strange choice of evidence for supporting the hypothesis in plants. Now, I don't want to claim that there is no difference between plantae and animalia, or even that distribution of function isn't a difference - it's just nowhere near a vast a gulf or significant a distinction as presented here.

The remainder of the book takes a somewhat odd turn, by strangely re-defining intelligence. In behavioural sciences intelligence is usually broadly defined based on an animal’s ability to react to an ongoing situation – it is an ‘online’ process, and the property of an individual being. We don’t usually consider a dolphin intelligent because its shape allows it to swim through the water, even if we might describe the hydrodynamics of a dolphin as ‘intelligent’ or ‘clever.’ Dolphins are intelligent, but not in virtue of their shape. The remainder of the book, however, considers almost exclusively this kind of evolutionary optimization as ‘intelligent.’ One chapter, for example, describes in excruciating detail the author’s experience at a chilli festival, making the strange claim that chilli is highly intelligent for developing capsaicin, that has allowed it to a) ward of predators, historically, and b) become an international delicacy for humans, ensuring it’s cultivation and propagation. Claiming chilli is intelligent by virtue of its evolutionary development of capsaicin seems – to me – an incredible broadening of the term, and a frustrating choice in the face of so many genuine examples of plant intelligence in the literature that go unmentioned.

The discussion of this form of plant intelligence broadens into the concept of bio-inspiration – the idea that we can derive from nature engineering principles to solve problems. Gone is the pretence of discussing the ecological role of a plant and its capabilities, gone is the pretence of discussing the mechanisms by which a plant’s behaviour arises. With each new chapter, the focus shifts further away from plants as an intelligent being, and closer towards how we can utilize plants in technology. This is a bit of a kick in the teeth – I love both plant intelligence and bioinspiration. Both are extraordinary fascinating topics that deserve a much larger share of public consciousness. If the book was to be about bioinspiration, why the pretence of a focus on plant intelligence? And if the book was supposed to be about plant intelligence, why the shift of focus away? In mixing and confusing them, this book had done both a disservice.

I do think I know why. The one commonality I could detect among each chapter, is the author’s personal involvement in the projects mentioned. Rather than a scholarly work reviewing the whole field of plant intelligence, it’s most exciting discoveries and thought-provoking experiments, ‘The Revolutionary Genius of Plants’ is an extended CV – a grab-bag of the projects the author has had personal involvement in. Alone, each project is fascinating puzzle-piece in a broader literature, but collected together without the context, The Revolutionary Genius of Plants comes off more as an exercise in narcissism than a piece of scholarship.
Profile Image for Peter Tillman.
3,545 reviews309 followers
April 14, 2019
Sadly, I didn't get far with this one. Author rambles on, text is loaded with weasel-words -- and the author claims to be the "world's leading expert in plant neurobiology." Which I imagine is an uncrowded specialty, since plants lack neurons. There's ample evidence elsewhere of (slow) communication between plants, and reactions to predators, but this isn't the book to learn about them, at least to where I gave up.

OK, let's see what others have said: here's Kim's 3-star:
"I read this all in one gulp, halfway towards drunk and sleepy as all get-out. Honestly, I think that may be the ideal reading experience for this book?" Heh. Maybe so. Otherwise, most others liked it more than I did. Still, caveat lector!

================= Earlier stuff ===================
Author is a neurobiologist, which should make for an interesting perspective. But it's a ways down in the pile....

How about it, Sarah Clement and/or Jennifer Mo? Have either of you tried the Mancuso "plant neurobiology" book? I think the "Semiosis" lady was planning on reading it..... She featured a Machiavellian, rainbow-hued alien clump of bamboo in that cool SF book. We need more active plants!

Nice WSJ review: https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-revo... (paywalled, but I'll send you a copy on RQ)
"Plants are exceptionally sensitive to their surroundings, constantly monitoring a host of factors, including light, gravity, moisture, oxygen, sound, the presence of other plants and the approach of predators. Recent research conducted in Dr. Mancuso’s laboratory at the University of Florence has shown that at least one plant is capable of learning and remembering: When Mimosa pudica, a tropical native also known as the sensitive plant, is exposed to gentle shaking, it responds at first by closing its leaves. But after seven or eight trials, the plant concludes the vibrations aren’t a real threat and keeps the leaves open—a lesson it can remember for more than 40 days.

Another plant has no eyes yet can see. The boquila, a woody vine native to South America, avoids predators by mimicking the shape, size and color of its neighbors’ leaves. This in itself isn’t much to brag about—except that one part of the boquila can impersonate one species while another part of the same individual mimics an entirely different species. To manage this, the vine must have some idea of what both neighbors look like. It may achieve this, Dr. Mancuso speculates, by using its exterior cells as crude lenses."

Interesting. Jennifer Mo, have you read this one yet? I'm guessing this is more authoritative than the German forester's thing, which is lurking on my bookshelf again....

Also see Sue Burke's enthusiastic review, https://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...
" Mancuso’s love for plants permeates the text – and his respect for them. By weight, the vast majority of life on Earth is plants. They are master problem-solvers, he says, and we can learn from them how to solve some of our own problems."
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,211 reviews551 followers
September 14, 2018
Beyond my poor ability to describe. Plus at least a third of it was quite over my head. And I'm a gardener and yard farmer.

The graphics and photo sheets are 6 star. And the science is exact and not for the uninterested.

It's deep and 80% of the weight of life on the Earth.

Some of the mimicry is so beyond exceptional that the fact that plants may have cells that act as "eyes" and can copy what they "see" in light and patterns. And forms.

But the author is extremely erudite. So don't think this is going to only be about genus or hybrid or the more common plant "books". This deals in minutia and the exact.

Lovely, lovely book and it weighs a ton.

Did you know that the main crop plants are ones that disguised themselves as other "human" interest plants or hid among them. And got their own starts by riding along with the first planters who stayed "put" instead of hunting and gathering. The RYE story was especially interesting.

This is a book to own and go through slowly. I took much more time to peruse and reread although I do not own it.
Profile Image for Leonardo.
13 reviews
December 30, 2019
Exceptionally good and it changed the way I relate with plants and trees.
Profile Image for Helio.
421 reviews63 followers
August 18, 2020
Among other things it talks about plants with memories, plants that can see and mimic, and how rye was a weed and weedled its way into being harvested by being hardier.

The chapter on democracy and its significance to plants escaped me. I followed the example of bees and there was some interest in the summary and utility of democracy in ancient Greece.

The Jellyfish Barge a self sustaining octagonal shaped raft for producing plants was intriguing as was its not being adopted. The author noted innovations either win awards or get marketed.

The chapter about the challenges of building the Crystal Palace was fascinating with over 240 proposals rejected and a last minute suggestion of constructing the enormous edifice based on the Victoria amazonica plant getting the go ahead.

For those with a food interest the spicy story of fifty grades of pepper hotness may stimulate your appetite. The scale goes from zero to sixteen million with a third of the world consuming this additive.

There is a chapter on how brainless plants function as drug dealers getting species hooked on sweet tastes then slowly introducing addictive akaloids to keep creatures around to do battle with encroaching enemies.

I would have liked to have seen more experiments on the plants that had memories and if the plants that imitated other plants leaves would have imitated species not in their environment or even plastic plants. Sadly there was no mention of the biochemical responses going on that brought about the unusual observed animal like behaviours.
Profile Image for João Carlos.
646 reviews271 followers
December 31, 2019

Mimosa pudica ou não-me-toques (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...)

”A Revolução das Plantas – Como a inteligência vegetal está a inventar o futuro do planeta e da humanidade” é um livro de leitura imprescindível.
O neurobiologista vegetal italiano Stefano Mancuso (n. 1965) inicia o Prefácio de ”A Revolução das Plantas” com a seguinte afirmação: ”Desconfio que a importância real das plantas para a vida do homem não seja totalmente compreendida pela maioria das pessoas.”
Há contudo incontáveis constatações sobre a importância das plantas, a forma como retiram do sol toda a energia necessária para sobreviverem, adaptando-se aos efeitos da predação e aos outros inúmeros vínculos pelo facto de estarem enraizadas no solo.
As plantas são nas palavras de Stefano Mancuso ”… um modelo de modernidade, e o objetivo deste livro é precisamente dar conta disso de uma forma evidente. Dos materiais à autonomia energética, da capacidade de resistência às estratégias de adaptação, desde os primórdios que as plantas fornecem as melhores soluções para a maioria dos problemas que afligem a humanidade. É só preciso saber como e onde procurar.” (Pág. 10)
As plantas conseguem percepcionar o ambiente envolvente, avaliando com precisão os custos e os benefícios das acções apropriadas em resposta aos estímulos ambientais.
”As plantas consubstanciam um modelo muito mais resistente e moderno do que o dos animais; são a prova viva de como solidez e flexibilidade se podem conjugar.” (Pág. 12)
A sua capacidade de resistir, reagir e sobreviver a acontecimentos catastróficos, sem perder funcionalidade, adaptando-se com grande rapidez às profundas alterações climáticas é verdadeiramente surpreendente.
Em suma: ”Quando se trata de robustez e inovação, não há nada que se possa comparar às plantas.” (Pág. 13)
Ao longo do livro Stefano Mancuso vai introduzindo várias temáticas, algum trabalho experimental, diversos exemplos práticos, que nos permitem avaliar e interiorizar determinados problemas que afligem o mundo das plantas e o mundo dos animais, racionais e irracionais.
”A Revolução das Plantas” é um bom ponto de partida – fascinante e envolvente -, sobre o mundo vegetal.
Para quem como eu queimou durante cinco anos as pestanas nas “cadeiras” de Botânica Agrícola e Fisiologia Vegetal, só para citar alguns “pincéis” - este livro tem argumentos científicos medianamente desenvolvidos, ou explanados numa metodologia ou numa forma pouco aprofundada.

Stefano Mancuso (n. 1965)
Profile Image for R Nair.
122 reviews52 followers
May 18, 2022
My apologies for writing this review in the same tone as a click-bait article, but if garbage on social-media can rely on it, then why not something actually useful, intelligible, informative and helpful for a change?

Were you taught in school that plants can't see? Well, your teachers were wrong. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/...)

Did you think that plants change colour in autumn/winter because they pull their chlorophyll away from their leaves to defend against frost? That probably isn't as true and as scientifically accepted as you think.

Did you believe that plants can't communicate? Or manipulate other organisms in a selfish ploy to ensure their own survival like any other human being would? Wrong again.

Plants surely can’t learn or store memories, right? RIGHT? Ha!

Now that my dastardly ploy to get you interested in knowing the answers to these questions without excessive scientific jargon or pseudoscientific gibberish has succeeded, please do pick this one up and have a go at its short 240 pages so that you never look at plants the same way again.
Profile Image for Laura Harrison.
989 reviews111 followers
April 20, 2018
What an absolutely glorious book. A must have for naturalists, environmentalists and truly all of us. A captivating and eye- opening read, perfect for fans of Peter Wohlleben. My favorite non-fiction book of the year.
Profile Image for Bianca Christine.
106 reviews9 followers
September 4, 2017
So relevant, so necessary. It does exactly what a good book should: teach and challenge the perceptions of our current reality.
Profile Image for Carol Chiovatto.
Author 27 books341 followers
July 12, 2022
Excelente divulgação científica, e ainda muito interessante pra escritores de FC, especialmente quem está navegando pelo solarpunk. Mancusa termina o livro putaço, como eu estaria no lugar dele. Pesquisador apaixonado é um grupo precioso!
Profile Image for Elentarri.
1,449 reviews6 followers
January 11, 2022
I'm exceptionally disappointed in this book.  The title of this book doesn't particularly reflect the contents.  This is not a general survey of plant intelligence and/or behavior, but a rather vague and superficial look at some of "neat things plants can do", focusing on a handful of experiments the author and his research assistants/students have been involved in.  Some of it is interesting, but I wanted more on the mechanisms - the hows and whys - and less speculation and fuzziness.  Seven of the nine chapters are incredibly short and full of irrelevant filler digressions about politics, computers, chili-eaters, and the authors personal anecdotes.  The majority of the chapters also only discuss one or two superficial examples without delving into more effective or indepth research.  The text comes across as more of a hodge-podge of interesting plant stories and speculation than any type of scientific book.  The photographs also don't particularly add anything except colour to the book, since the majority don't illustrate the concept or example being discussed in the text.   With unclear definitions, contradictory descriptions (e.g. plants don't have organs, but 2 pages later the roots are organs, and two chapters before, leaves had eyes) and insufficient new or exiting information, this book is nothing more than what should have been a collection of magazine articles tooting the author's own horn. 

If you want to read some interesting books about plants, try the following: 

- The Emerald Planet:  How Plants Changed Earth's History by David Beerling
- Making Eden:  How Plants Transformed a Barren Planet
- Botany for Gardeners by Brian Capon (2nd or 3rd edition)
- Fortress Plant:  How to Survive When Everything Wants to Eat You - Dale Walters
- How Plants Work:  The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do by Linda Chalker-Scott
and very tentatively;
- What a Plant Knows by Daniel Chamovitz (updated and expanded edition) - very basic introduction to the subject.
Profile Image for gregor kulla.
111 reviews46 followers
December 22, 2021
mina ei teadnud, et puude lehed värvuvad sügisel punaseks, lillaks, pruuniks sestap, et anda enne lehetäide pesitsusaega neile teada, et jou teil pole mõttet siia tulla, kuna meil nkn pole kohe enam lehti. mitte sellepärast, et neil klorofüll degradeerub?? ja et akaatsiatel on manipulatiivne sümbioos sipelgatega, kus puu annab küll kui kraanist sipelgatele nektarit, et need teda kaitseks (akaatsiate ümber on mingi ma ei tea meetrine ring, mis on puhas teistest taimedest, sest sipelgad teevad puhta vuugi, muuseas lähevad ka loomadele kallale, kes peaks akaatsiale midagi tegema), aga akaatsia on oma nektari sisse toppinud sõltuvust tekitavaid aineid, et sipelgad esiteks rohkem töötaks (kofeein) ning akaatsia nektarita elada ei saaks. põnev! lugesin ühe päevaga läbi! hästi kirjutatud ka.
Profile Image for Jeff Brown.
26 reviews3 followers
November 27, 2018
If you buy this book, hopefully you aren't expecting to read much about plants. Or really read much period. For starters - it clocks in at 40,000 words, which is about half the length of a typical short book (to chose a popular example, HP Philosopher's Stone is 77,000 words).

The bigger problem though is that the book is mostly a bunch of tangents that have little to do with plants (or "plant intelligence and behavior", as is explicitly spelled out in THE TITLE OF THE BOOK), and much of it is handwaving hogwash (I have a better word, than hogwash, but am not sure of the language restrictions on goodreads).

An example:

Chapter 5 starts off with a fairly engaging discussion of the ability of certain plants to use odors and chemicals to coerce insects/animals into doing their biding (there is a particularly interesting description of Acacia trees and ants). This lasts for 5 pages, 2 of which are photographs, margins and headings (so really 3 pages). The author then goes on an extended anecdote about people who like hot peppers that is almost entirely "plant intelligence and behavior" free, and in fact doesn't talk much about actual peppers. It contains some musings (random thoughts that the author admits he has no actual data or evidence on) about why people (in his unverified opinion) might like hot peppers. This goes on for TWELVE pages (mercifully 3 are photographs, so really 9 pages). The chapter then wraps up with a 1 page summary that proportionally represents the chapter.

I would say this chapter was somewhere in the middle of the bull.., er, hogwash content for the book. Some were a little better, others were worse, particularly towards the end. But all in all about 25% interesting plant information, 75% tangential information that is sometimes facts (although not about anything to do with plants), sometimes weird assertions that don't appear to be based on facts/data, sometimes his own projects that he describes as successful even though it doesn't really sound like they were in any practical sense. Keep in mind that this is for something half the length of a short book to being with, so not very much cool "plant intelligence and behavior" at all.

Add one star for a really nice layout and graphics (kudos to Kyoko Watanabee, who is listed as responsible for interior design - your design & layout was the one exceptional thing about the book), subtract one star for presenting this as science and fooling non-scientists into thinking these are actual facts and not just the author's musings.
Profile Image for Correen.
1,112 reviews
August 5, 2019
I found this book fascinating and refreshing. It has beautiful photography, great information, and wonderful stories. The author talks about the wisdom we have gained from observing and in-depth study of plants. His chapters are arranged into very interesting and rarely discussed topics, e.g., memories without a brain, mimesis, green democracies, "plantoids," and my favorite -- archiplants. He mentions research topics and describes some experiments, plus he often expands into somewhat related and often tangental information or stories that I found delightful.

My one criticism of the book was that I found some information to be inaccurate. It could be that the prevailing thinking had changed since he wrote the book (in projection of population figures) or that he viewed some things differently (e.g., a comment that no animals could change their colors as could plants.) They were details but jarred me when I read them. I still recommend the book the wonderful format, ideas, stories, and botanical information.

Profile Image for Erica Hernandez.
68 reviews
March 5, 2019
As someone who has a MS in Horticultural Biology, I enjoyed a lot of the history and examples provided in this book. However, I found many of the "motives" ascribed to the plants or mechanisms in these examples difficult to swallow. After reading this book, I almost feel a better title would be "The Revolutionary Genius of Evolution: A New Understanding of How Natural Selection Has Overcome Selection Pressures Against Immovable Life Forms". I felt like the author went too far in implying that plants have any form of conscious choice in any of their "actions" and that anything other than chemistry and natural selection was at play here. That being said, I really enjoyed the chapters on architectural inspirations taken from plants, plants in space, and organization. It was very interesting to hear these perspectives, regardless of whether I agreed with them or not. Not an overly difficult read, even if you don't have a background in plant science.
Profile Image for Emilia Macchi.
Author 3 books21 followers
August 10, 2020
Que libro más lindo. No se bien como resumirlo, pero en una parte dice que el mundo animal siempre escapa, migra o huye de sus problemas, mientras que las plantas realmente afrontan y solucionan problemas. Por ende, tenemos mucho que aprender del Reino Vegetal si queremos seguir existiendo cuando ya no quede dónde escapar. Es un texto científico pero muy bien explicado, divertido y emocionante. Lo mejor que he leído en el año 🥺.
Profile Image for Ettore1207.
387 reviews
June 21, 2018
Le piante incarnano un modello molto più resistente e moderno di quello animale; sono la rappresentazione vivente di come solidità e flessibilità possano coniugarsi. La loro costruzione modulare è la quintessenza della modernità: un’architettura cooperativa, distribuita, senza centri di comando, capace di resistere alla perfezione a ripetuti eventi catastrofici senza perdere funzionalità e in grado di adattarsi con grande rapidità a enormi cambiamenti ambientali.
La complessa organizzazione anatomica e le principali funzionalità della pianta richiedono un sistema sensoriale ben sviluppato, che permetta all’organismo di esplorare con efficienza l’ambiente e di reagire con prontezza a eventi potenzialmente dannosi. Così, per utilizzare le risorse dell’ambiente, le piante si avvalgono tra l’altro di una raffinata rete radicale formata da apici in continuo sviluppo, che esplorano in modo attivo il suolo. Non è un caso che internet, il simbolo stesso del moderno, sia costruita come una rete radicale.
Quando si tratta di robustezza e innovazione, nulla può stare al pari delle piante. Grazie all’evoluzione, che le ha portate a sviluppare soluzioni molto diverse da quelle trovate dagli animali, esse sono, da questo punto di vista, organismi molto più moderni.
Faremmo bene a tenerne conto, nel progettare il nostro futuro.

Un saggio molto interessante, mai troppo tecnico né pesante, che svela caratteristiche impensate del mondo vegetale, scritto da un ricercatore che queste cose le conosce davvero.
Nelle pagine finali si descrive una serra galleggiante, ideata dal team dell'autore, capace di dissalare l'acqua del mare e di produrre insalata senza alcun apporto esterno: niente terra, acqua, concimi, ecc. Tutto il necessario viene estratto dal mare per mezzo dell'energia fornita da pannelli solari. Pensateci bene: non è quasi un miracolo? Non potrebbe essere l'abbozzo di una soluzione, almeno parziale, ai problemi di sfruttamento del suolo ecc.?
Peccato che questo progetto sia in fase di stallo, dato che ormai i ricercatori devono trovare soldi privati, e non tutti gli imprenditori sono illuminati o lungimiranti.

Ad esempio, oggi non vai da nessuna parte senza un business plan. Te lo chiedono prima di sapere come ti chiami. «Non ha un business plan?» Dopo un primo attimo d’incredulità nel trovarsi davanti a qualcuno che circola senza un business plan, i più cortesi scuotono sconsolati la testa e allargano le braccia in una chiara mimica di impossibilità, anche volendo, ad aiutarti. Ma i garbati sono pochi, la maggior parte, lo vedi benissimo, non riesce a mascherare il disprezzo. Ma come? Ti presenti, rubando interi minuti del loro preziosissimo tempo - che, ricordiamolo sempre, è denaro - e non hai un business plan? Abbiamo almeno un elevator pitch? Cosa? Mi auguro sappiate cos’è un elevator pitch: non saperlo vi impedirebbe per sempre di far parte del gran mondo degli affari, relegandovi al ruolo di poveri, ingenui spettatori. Io, ovviamente, non lo sapevo, ma siccome mi piace studiare mi sono informato. Dunque, il concetto è che voi siate in grado di riassumere la vostra idea in un tempo variabile da uno a due minuti, ossia il tempo che un ascensore impiega a terminare il suo tragitto [...]
Profile Image for Jorge Zuluaga.
268 reviews283 followers
December 8, 2022
Un libro delicioso: bien escrito, lleno de datos curiosos, con algunas reflexiones profundas sobre la sociedad, anécdotas divertidas y buena ciencia.

Tenía este libro en mi lista de libros por leer desde hacia un buen rato. He ido acercándome al tema de las plantas y los hongos a través de otros grandes libros de ensayo y entre más leo más me sorprendo de los secretos detrás de esas formas de organismos que consideramos estáticas, decorativas, naturalmente nutritivas, pero al mismo tiempo estúpidas. Que lejos me siento cada vez de esa concepción errada tan extendida entre nosotros.

Como seguramente ya habrán leído en la contraportada de este libro, Stefano Mancuso es quizás el experto más importante en el mundo en neurobiología vegetal. Sí, así como lo leen: una disciplina que habla sobre la "mente" de seres vivos sin cerebro, sin una sola neurona (de allí el aparente sinsentido), con nula o poca movilidad y muy distintos a los cerebritos del mundo vivo, es decir, a los animales, incluyéndonos. "El futuro es vegetal" es uno de sus libros, y no el más conocido por cierto, sobre las increíbles propiedades que tienen las plantas y que les han permitido lidiar por más de 600 millones de años con los retos que enfrentan en su medio ambiente natural; Es precisamente lo de. "lidiar con retos" lo que hace que podamos hablar de procesos cognitivos en las plantas.

Pero este libro va más allá de una simple descripción o enumeración de las propiedades increíbles de las plantas, especialmente de aquellas que consideramos exclusivas de los animales. Este libro trata sobre cómo los humanos, nosotros que nos consideramos la cima de la evolución natural precisamente por nuestras capacidades cognitivas, de como deberíamos empezar a imitar a las plantas y sus elegantes soluciones a una increíble diversidad de problemas, para garantizarnos un futuro sobre la Tierra.

En medio de su entretenida y bien escrita colección de Ensayos, el profesor Mancuso introduce el interesante concepto de "plantoides", la versión vegetal de los "androides", máquinas que imitan las propiedades y comportamientos de las plantas en lugar de los móviles y aparentemente más inteligentes animales humanos, para crear soluciones a problemas que incluyen la obtención de alimento, la construcción de estructuras resistentes, la supervivencia en un mundo cambiante (¡nunca esto has sido más importante que ahora!), las búsqueda de recursos en los suelos, la detección de elementos contaminantes, los motores movidos por cambios sutiles en la humedad ambiental, los viajes espaciales, incluso las decisiones políticas en las democracias.

Nada es obvio, nada es trillado en este libro. Todo, al menos para mí, fue sorprendente.

¡No dejen de leerlo!
Profile Image for Andrea.
895 reviews40 followers
August 23, 2021
Una lettura piacevole e piaciona, ricca di foto e aneddoti, dedicata all'intelligenza delle piante ed alla loro centralità per la progettazione del nostro futuro.
Profile Image for Julia Coppa.
100 reviews11 followers
October 31, 2021
poxa as últimas páginas eu li com os olhos lacrimejando de emoção
Profile Image for Vishakha ~ ReadingSpren ~.
226 reviews185 followers
June 22, 2020
This book is criminally underrated and unpopular. If you have read "The hidden Life of Trees" then this is surely what you need to read next. The two books share nothing except, perhaps, an uninhibited fascination with the genius of plants.

I guarantee this will change your entire perception on who you think plants are. The book deals mostly with how we need to incorporate more and more of what plants are doing into our own lifestyles. From architecture to robotics, humanity has time again found itself looking at plants as our guide, our muse, and time and again plants have delivered.
Profile Image for Pipet Boy.
26 reviews
March 26, 2018
Maravillado me hallo ante esta obra de arte divulgativa. Todo el que me conozca bien, sabe que no soy muy aficionado de los ensayos, pero este me ha atrapado desde el principio hasta el final.

Cuando empecé este libro, me mostré un poco escéptico ante el hecho de fuera aprender nada nuevo de las plantas. ¡Y vaya si estaba equivocado! Aunque odie admitirlo, me alegro mucho de que así haya sido.

No sé hasta qué punto es objetiva esta reseña dado el amor que profeso por la plantas, pero dejando de lado los aspectos científicos, la manera en la que está narrado este libro no deja indiferente a nadie.

Me ha parecido más que acertada la manera en la que el autor presenta cada uno de los capítulos: con anécdotas que, gusten o no las plantas, enganchan a todo curioso nato.

A pesar de contar al lector de manera amena y divertida historias más que curiosas del mundo vegetal, siempre estaba presente el rigor científico que se espera de un ensayo de este tipo. El autor ha sido capaz de transmitir su visión y su entendimiento de las plantas (entiende las plantas a un nivel que a mí me ha maravillado) de una manera magistral, brillante e impecable.

Entiendo que sea una lectura casi obligatoria para todo amante de la botánica, pero me parece sobre todo un libro muy necesario para personas no tan entusiastas, pues les hará entender los maravillosos seres que son las plantas.

Termino esta reseña con una pequeña pega a la edición del libro, pues había alguna que otra falta de ortografía.

Así pues, doy a este libro sus merecidísimas 5 estrellas.
Profile Image for Federico García.
88 reviews5 followers
August 8, 2021
Frente a los invidualistas animales, las plantas son organismos esencialmemte colaborativos.
De hecho, una planta es una conjunción de unidades que contienen muchas funciones comunes y que pueden replicarse con facilidad en cualquier lugar de la misma.
Por eso al autor le resultan fascinantes.
Y, en consecuencia, señala muchos ejemplos de problemas vitales resueltos de una manera mas inteligente en el mundo vegetal.
Un texto interesante que ofrece una perspectiva novedosa para abordar los ingentes problemas que esperan a la humanidad en el futuro.
Profile Image for Nithuir.
220 reviews1 follower
September 5, 2018
Shorter than I expected. I feel like much of the actual "plant" information I've already read in other books, but I would have liked for the author to have expanded more about technological inspiration from plants.
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