The idea that plants have a mind of their own has been a prominent feature of some Indigenous narratives, literary works, and philosophical discourses. Recent scientific research in the field of plant cognition similarly highlights the capacity of botanical life to discern between options and learn from prior experiences or, in other words, to think.
The Mind of Plants offers an accessible account of the idea of "the plant mind" by bringing together short essays and poems on plants and their interactions with humans. The texts interpret the theme broadly – from the ways that humans mind and unmind plants to the mindedness or unmindedness of plants themselves. Authors from the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences have written about their personal connections to particular plants, reflecting upon their research on plant studies in a style amenable to a broad audience. Each of the authors has selected a plant that functions as a guiding thread to their interpretation of "the mind of plants". From the ubiquitous rose to the ugly hornwort, from the Amazonian ayahuasca to tobacco, the texts reflect the multifarious interactions between humans and flora.
These personal narratives, filled with anecdotes, experiences, and musings, offer cutting-edge insights into the different meanings and dimensions of "the mind of plants". Contributors to The Mind of Plants are key figures in the fields of ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, plant behaviour and cognition, and critical plant studies. Included are simple, thumbnail-style, black-and-white illustrations of the plants to enhance readers' appreciation of the narratives.
John Charles Ryan is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Southern Cross University, Australia, and Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Nulungu Institute, University of Notre Dame, Australia. His interests include Aboriginal Australian and Southeast Asian literature, ecocriticism, ecopoetics, critical plant studies, and the environmental humanities. He is the co-editor of the forthcoming Postcolonial Literatures of Climate Change (2022, Brill) and coauthor of Introduction to the Environmental Humanities (2021, Routledge). He has recently served as a Writer-in-Residence at Oak Spring Garden Foundation in Virginia.
Patrícia Vieira is a Senior Researcher at the Centre for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra and Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, at Georgetown University. Her fields of expertise are Latin American and Iberian Literatures and Cultures, Portuguese and Brazilian Cinema, Utopian Studies and the Environmental Humanities. Her most recent monograph is States of Grace: Utopia in Brazilian Culture (SUNY UP, 20018) and her most recent co-edited book is Portuguese Literature and the Environment (Lexington, 2019). She has published numerous articles in her fields of expertise, as well as op-eds in The New York Times, the LA Review of Books and The European, among others.
Monica Gagliano is a Research Associate Professor in evolutionary ecology. A former fellow of the Australian Research Council, she is a Research Associate Professor (adjunct) at the University of Western Australia and a Member of the Sydney Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of Sydney. She is currently based at Southern Cross University where she directs the BI Lab–Biological Intelligence Lab as part of the Diverse Intelligences Initiative of the Templeton World Charity Foundation. Her work has extended the concept of cognition (including perception, learning processes, memory) in plants. Her latest book is Thus Spoke the Plant (North Atlantic Books, 2018).