How does a Venus flytrap know when to snap shut? Can it feel an insect's spindly legs? How do roses know when it's spring? Do they actually remember the weather? Now, in What a Plant Knows, renowned biologist Daniel Chamovitz presents a beguiling exploration of how plants experience our shared Earth – in terms of sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing, memory, and even awareness. Combining cutting-edge research with lively storytelling, Chamovitz explains how a willow tree knows when its neighbours have been commandeered by an army of ravenous beetles to why an avocado ripens when you give it the company of a banana in a bag (it's the pheromones). And he settles the debate, once and for all, over whether your beloved basil cares if you play Led Zeppelin or Bach. Whether you are a green thumb, a science buff, a vegetarian, or a nature lover, this book will have something of interest.
Please note: the difference between the £12.99 and £8.99 paperback version is that the former is a trade paperback, whereas the latter is a mass-market paperback (also see this entry on Wikipedia for the difference between the two). Due to its smaller format, the mass-market paperback is 213 pages in length.
Daniel Chamovitz is Director of the Manna Centre for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University in Israel. His career has been marked by groundbreaking discoveries in the biology of plants, with his research published in the leading journals. This is his first book.
"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 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
"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 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