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The Secret Life of Plants: A Fascinating Account of the Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Relations Between Plants and Man
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The Secret Life of Plants: A Fascinating Account of the Physical, Emotional and Spiritual Relations Between Plants and Man

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  2,049 ratings  ·  204 reviews
Exploring the world of plants and its relation to mankind as revealed by the latest discoveries of scientists, The Secret Life of Plants includes remarkable information about plants as lie detectors and plants as ecological sentinels; it describes their ability to adapt to human wishes, their response to music, their curative powers, and their ability to communicate with m ...more
Paperback, 402 pages
Published March 8th 1989 by Harper Perennial (first published 1973)
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Marcha Fox Yes, I recall that section and if I can find it I'll come back and add the page number. I think you captured it reasonably well. It made me think of…moreYes, I recall that section and if I can find it I'll come back and add the page number. I think you captured it reasonably well. It made me think of how wise it is to bless our food and show appreciation for it. I always thought the way they handled it in the movie "Avatar" was beautiful, too, where they killed the deer (or whatever it was) but thanked it and showed appreciation for its sacrifice. However, as I read this book, I almost feel guilty for how I've treated many plants during my life! I even wonder about mowing my grass. LOL. Good excuse not to. :-D(less)

Community Reviews

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4.07  · 
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 ·  2,049 ratings  ·  204 reviews


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Maureen
Jun 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: gardeners and kooks
Shelves: horticulture
I grew up next door to a tree nursery, and spent my childhood running up and down rows of azaleas and camellias, and reading books in the branches of an old apple tree. Perhaps that is what made me so receptive to this book. I cannot remember a time in my life when I did not talk to plants.

Granted, this is a kooky book, and it has not aged all that well. It would be interesting if someone updated it, and maybe fine-tuned it. I actually got to see some of the ideas from these pages put into acti
...more
Chaz
Apr 20, 2008 rated it did not like it

To be completely honest, I truly wanted to believe that some of the “secrets” in this book are true. Perhaps some are, but even with a very open mind I had a hard time swallowing most of this “new age” pseudo-science. In addition this book is poorly organized, in a dire need of editing and at times deadly boring.

The authors’ propose that we/human beings have a conscious connection to the plant world. This I believe is possible – although the premises presented here attempt to convince that the
...more
Carrie
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone that has feelings
Recommended to Carrie by: Robert Smith
This book is profound. I know you're thinking of course a vegan is going to like this book. But, it almost scares me. I mean..if I can't eat plants what can i eat? I need another copy of this book though cause I didn't finish it. I ended up giving it away...seriously not because I didn't want to finish it but b/c the other person NEEDED TO READ this book.
Lea
Apr 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I don't know where I found this book, what compelled me to buy it, or why I started reading it, seeing that I had never sought it out or knew anybody else that had ever read it. It's almost as if this book found me. Or maybe a plant willed it to happen somewhere. This book follows the studies of various scientists that have proposed that plants not only have the ability to feel pain and other human emotions, but can also anticipate them, adding psychic and telepathic to the list of abilities tha ...more
Laura
Jan 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is a weird and amazing book. I would recommend this book only to people who love plants and gardening. Basically, the book is trying to prove that plants have "feelings" and are extremely sensitive to human thought. They back up many of their theories with scientific studies...some more credible than others. I was reading this book in my living room near my houseplants and at one point, looked up to apologize to how poorly I treat them! Poor darlings...would it kill me to water and fertiliz ...more
Dennis
Sep 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a great book to peruse so long as you don't get hung up on the over-evaluations of the authors. It is very important to keep an open mind throughout the entire read, as the authors use quite an open dose of Writer's License, and many of the intended hypotheses have since been proven one way or the other (some of the major and emotional hypotheses having since been proven false) and other things are just downright incorrect (Washington-Carver and peanut butter). There are some marvelous i ...more
eoin
Jan 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I came across this book in a second-hand bookstore in Antigua, Guatemala, complete with colourful wild crayon scribblings inside the covers. The previous owner was obviously a precocious four year old.
What an extraordinary book this is. It doesn't follow the orthodox well-trodden scientific pathway. Some parts are recognisably connected to "regular" science, and some are plainly looney. Mainstream science in many ways is blinkered, and incapable of considering a lot of the radical material cove
...more
Joel
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is what really excited me so much, I chose to study Plant Genetics. To learn that plants communicate when they're either stressed or happy. Yes, plants have feelings too - we just have a hard time understanding them - in many ways plants are alien creatures. They live, act (yes, they act), and reproduce in ways very strange to mammals.

If you think plants are boring and totally uninteresting (like my college zoology instructor), give this book a try. You'll be surprised at the atypical
...more
Jenell
May 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: botany
In The Secret Life of Plants: A fascinating account of the physical, emotional, and spiritual relations between plants and man, Peter Tompkins chronicles numerous scientists and their experiments with plants through the centuries.

I found myself immediately drawn in. I already had a sense that plants were sentient, but seeing the range of plant consciousness in the researchers’ documentation was amazing. The experiments were simple enough that I could do them. I’ve sat in front of my garden and
...more
Emily
Mar 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is life-changing. You will never consider your interaction with plants/nature the same afterwards. Study after study, experiment after experiment - this book is full of the indisputable evidence that plants are sentient and possibly communicate with other worlds. While the reading can be a bit heady, it covers such a fascinating topic so broadly, it doesn't matter. Artists, scientists, and students all have contributed to incredible work with plants to reveal just how alive they are. H ...more
Meadow
Dec 14, 2007 rated it liked it
This non-fiction book discussed totally ridiculous, yet amazing research from the 70s regarding the empathetic and telekinetic powers of plant life.
Eliot Fiend
Dec 25, 2012 rated it did not like it
this review hinges on the first 100 pages or so, cause i didn't make it past there.

tomkpkins' and bird draw on extensive fringe research on the parapsychological and superscientific (that is, both of/within and above/on the fringe of "science") to ground their convictions and central claim that plants are sentient, feeling, communicative beings which can communicate with mindful humans who tap into their energetic frequencies. plants become tuned in and "loyal" to their caretakers and can energ
...more
Diane
Jan 24, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: aborted-mission
It is kind of hard to stomach. Not a science book. The claims that are made from the experimental evidence described here are in the realm of pseudoscience. They dont follow guidelines of science. I started it but I probably will not finish it. It has an annoying chauvanistic undertone which begins in the introduction, when a general statement is made about women liking to decorate their houses with plants. Then they have to point out when a person is a female, and then they talk about brine shr ...more
Ron Campbell
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an older book that I think was published in the 70s, if I remember correctly. I include it under the bookshelf of shamanism because it explores the level of Consciousness within the Plant Kingdom.

The authors set many different environments for the plants and recorded how the plants responded. It goes to how plants develop relationships with their environment and even with animals and people.

Our human senses are very limiting and just because plants may not respond in a manner that we ca
...more
Tania Ahlfeldt
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I came across this book by pure accident and was drawn into it in a way I cannot explain. On the one hand I felt a salivating fascination and on the other it made me want to laugh hysterically at the absurdity of it. That being said, I felt almost comforted by the unsophisticated 70's vibe of the book. What I walked away with was the knowledge that we do only KNOW in part. Plants are way more intriguing to me now. I watch my sugar snap peas send out their tendrils which then search for and curl ...more
Bigmakmotorbreath
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Bigmakmotorbreath by: a freind
Cleve Backster invented the Galvonometer otherwise known as the first "Lie Detector" before the advent of the polygraph being developed for use of studying the most fragile admissions of hopeful intelligent life and extra sensory perception(with plants). The book proves that since 1966 and the dawn of Botanical research Backster and his research of all species of plants are entirely sensitive to any mirroring human emotion.
Later engineers had touched upon Backsters creation to make yet even mor
...more
Courtney
Jan 31, 2009 rated it liked it
Comprehensive info about--you guessed it--PLANTS. Contains some nonsense (in part due to the book being so old), as well as some wisdom, so pick and choose what chapters you would most like and then skip the rest. I appreciated the admirable account of George Washington Carver, noble genius, and also liked the idea that people should approach eating plants with a feeling of reverence. After all, plants are living things that die in order for us humans to live. I found my prayers over meals becam ...more
Ero
Sep 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
Reading this book makes me feel stoned. In a good way. A lot of sentient root-tubules seeking sunlight, and responding via ESP. Hard to tell if there's any science buried in all the pseudo-science, but it seems likely. In any case the more far-fetched stuff is I can't read this on my way to work, it'll ruin my ability to focus. But it's a great weekend read... and may convince me to change my life back to the plant-loving hippie lifestyle I should be living.

I love it.
Charlie
Dec 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
Some might say this book is airy fairy la la hippy crap. Personally I like the thought that plants are sentient in ways people don't fully understand. Science and evolution are clearly valid explanations, but there is much left unexplained and its prudent to keep ones mind open to other more ethereal possibilities.
Tony
Nov 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
Some very convincing stuff here, but then they blew it near the end, by going over the top somewhat.
Scott
May 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Secret Life of Plants

The book covers experiments from around the world and features many familiar names from the scientific and philosophical communities such as Alessando Volta, Edgar Cayce, Franz Anton Mesmer, George Washington Carver, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Luigi Galvani, Manly P. Hall, Rudolf Steiner, and Thomas Edison.

This 1973 book begins with Cleve Backster, America's foremost lie-detector examiner, connecting his galvanometer to a house plant called Dracaena massangeana. He trie
...more
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This book cannot go undiscussed, as it can't really be "rated" in any meaningful way. It raises so many different issues I don't know where to start, so I'll start with what i consider the most important one-- the role of science in our society. As an account of the history of "fringe" scientific exploration of plants, this book makes it clear that no talk of scientific neutrality can be earnest, both in the sense of the impartiality of science as a discipline, and in the more slippery sense of ...more
Suneel Madhekar
Oct 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a fantastic book! The authors cover an enormous volume of literature as they review and present the various aspects of plant life and its connections with the human world. They refer to so many botanists, veterinarians, researchers, engineers, scientists, mystics and other "experts", that after the first few pages, I started forgetting the name of the last person that the authors had referred to! Many of the ideas and explanations forwarded by the authors are provocative and controversial. ...more
Ian Forsyth
Jul 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book may not always make you completely believe its conclusions but it will make you start to believe one thing very important and to whatever depth you wish to go: plants as we've always known are living beings but they're far from just 'vegetables', they have ways of receiving thoughts and emotions from us in their own ways, and communicating and exchanging nutrients between each other, they respect those who show them respect and this can be seen in their healthy growth.
The book is engag
...more
Leah B
Jun 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
An inquiry into plant consciousness that opens thought provoking windows in to a broad range of topics from biology and physics to our connection with the divine. There are SO many interesting facts and fascinating experiences in this book. This is a great book to read if you're doing any kind of gardening, though it ventures well beyond plants.
I did find the writing to be a bit heavy on names and historical details at times, but it just goes to show how well researched the material was.
I am c
...more
Becky
Sep 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing

A book that really opened my eyes to nature and its capabilities. I was captivated by some of the topics....do plants have feelings? A good incite into the natural world and mind expanding, there is so much we take for granted, this book takes you on a journey discovering the small vibrations of life and how essential they are. If you believe talking to your plants makes them grow stronger then this is the book for you!
Georgia Enoch
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all
Recommended to Georgia by: science proffessor
Plants can detect the thoughts of humans around them..and they respond to humans actions towards plants!!! Organic Farmers Rule!!!
this month's The Sun magazine (Oct 2012) has a great feature story "Sowing Dissent" about real farming methods...not Monsanto's. Lab people we should all be aware of the importance of the millions of bacteria that are part of our bodies and our health. If you want Info on The Sun, ask me. No Advertisements in this magazine. Subscriber supported.
Alicedewonder
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If one is so self-absorbed into believing that if it is not human then it has no feelings or thoughts, then this book is an eye-opener into a world that most of us ignore.
Having grown-up playing in the woods, living on a lake, and then taking on Berkshire life for the following 20 years I found this book to be an affirmation. Plants are not only alive and talking, but intuitive as well.
Dorien
Sep 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone!!
This book should be read by everyone!
It completely changes the way we look at the world around us, the plants, our food, the buildings.. and the way we interact with it. This will be another one of those books that become a sort of bible on my bookshelf.. Something to go back to from time to time.
Oh, and pleasant to read too.. It kept making me wonder and amaze.
Lauren
Mar 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nature
Sigh. I was looking forward to reading this book because I'm a plant-lover and I totally talk to my plants, but even in the first chapter this book gave way to eyerolls. Confirmation bias and anecdotes with unrepeatable experiments, oh my! And then I read this: http://www.skepdic.com/plants.html. I say again, sigh.
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sairam 3 16 Jan 14, 2013 11:14AM  

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Peter Tompkins was an American journalist, World War II spy, and best-selling author.
His best known and most influential books include The Secret Life of Plants, published in 1973, Secrets of the Great Pyramid, reprinted in paperback in 1997, and Mysteries of the Mexican Pyramids, published in 1976. He is the father of author Ptolemy Tompkins.
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