Plant Blindness by Howard Thomas is a concise work that explores the thesis that we often 'blind' to the plant world and its significance in our lives, at both a personal and societal level. He examines how this 'oversight ' operates, in sometimes quite nuanced ways, the consequences of such blithe disregard, and how plant blindness might be overcome.
Plant blindness was a term first employed in 1998 by two academics in the US, Wannersee and Schlusser, in relation to perceived deficiencies in biological education. They and others subsequently developed this notion further and in recent years the concept has gained fresh traction. There is now plenty of both anecdotal evidence and research studies that suggest that from childhood onward animals are both noticed and remembered more easily than plants. Several cultural and cognitive aspects have been proposed as being implicated and suggestions made to overcome this bias and the concomitant effect it has on the level of support provided in areas such as investment and training in plant studies and conservation work. Support which will be vital to our future well-being.
As in his previous books, such as the The War between Trees and Grasses, the author mines his knowledge of both plant science and the literature on the sociological, psychological and cultural aspects of our interaction with the plant world to weave an interesting and wide-ranging review, systematically looking at each of the attributes of what he calls Plant Blindness syndrome as well pointing out the varying and often contradictory ways we view plants and nature. The writing is always informative and thought-provoking and has something to say to both those familiar with the ideas he discusses and the everyman.