Book review – Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence

This short book is a very good introduction to the emerging field of the study of plant “intelligence”. I have to put the term between quotes because as currently defined, “intelligence” is heavily biased in favor of animal life. However, the undeniable truth is that plants display many traits that we usually associate with animals; this is the central theme of the book.
Chapters 1 and 2  introduce the basic facts about the history of our relationship with plants, including our perception of plants as “second class citizens” on this planet. Chapters 3 and 4 talk about the senses that plants use to “observe” the world and some insights on how plants communicate. Chapter 5 is a quite exciting and more speculative chapter on the idea of plant “intelligence”. I was disappointed at a section on how plants can help us understand possible extraterrestrial intelligence, the section was less than two pages long!
The book was very well written, but it lacked an index, which makes the process of looking for information in it much more onerous. Also, the notes style is rather annoying in the sense that they are not numbered; one has to “hunt” for the appropriate passage, again, making finding precise information much more difficult. The premise of this book had so much promise; it is a shame that its shortness and design does not do the topic much justice. I hope that a more extensive version gets written eventually.

Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence

Stefano Mancuso, Allesandra Viola; translated form the Italian by Joan Benham

March 2015 – 978-1610916035

brilliant green

Picture credit: Island Press

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