Given the chance of seeing a plant or an animal in any given scene,
we will likely see the animal.
This is referred to as "Plant Blindness," a term coined in 1998 by American botanists James Wandersee and Elizabeth Schussler. They defined plant blindness as "the inability to see or notice the plants in one's own environment" and suggested such a human condition leads "to the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere and in human affairs."
Our mission at The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai has been to Transform Your Understanding of Plants [TYUP™]. The books and articles in this section will help you better understand plants and lead you to better understand their role in our lives and the life upon our planet. Don't forget to also visit our "Recommended Viewing" section for videos related to Improving Your Understanding of Plants and knowledge of "Why Plants Matter."
The Cabaret of Plants is not written by a botanist,
but rather a British writer and journalist who likes to write about about nature and culture (people).
Upon publication of this book, in November of 2015,
The Guardian wrote the following:
"This month Mabey publishes a personal magnum opus of tales of man’s relation with the vegetable world, that takes you from Paleolithic cave art right up to mind-blowing experiments in discovering how trees and flowers communicate with each other and with insects."
Take note of the last few words above and choose to read this book to begin your TYUP™ experience.
by Richard Mabey
Again, Richard Mabey is not a botanist!
Yet in his new book he invites you to consider plants in a radical new way.
Like us here at The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai, he asks you to consider "Why Plants Matter."
In The Cabaret of Plants, Mabey succeeds in giving plants their just place in the story of life. Mabey helps us understand the vital role plants have played, and continue to play in the story of life on Earth. Mabey suggests we can learn important lessons from a better understanding of plants and can draw inspiration to help us face current environmental change by understanding plants incredible resilience.
If you read only one book about plants, perhaps it should be this - for after you've read this you'll go on to read others on our list! Still not sure - read the New York Times review: click here.
Our view of plants is quite anthropomorphic and, perhaps, in our 21st Century, a bit outdated.
Professor Stefano Mancuso brings you up to date in "Brilliant Green," destined to be a classic.
by Stefano Mancuso
with a forward by Michael Pollan
"Are plants intelligent? Can they solve problems, communicate, and navigate their surroundings?
Or are they passive, incapable of independent action or social behavior?
Philosophers and scientists have pondered these questions since ancient Greece, most often concluding plants are unthinking and inert -- just too different from us. Yet discoveries over the past fifty years have challenged these ideas, shedding new light on the extraordinary capabilities and complex interior lives of plants."*
By choosing The Artists Environmental Foundation of the Florida Keys, for all your Amazon* purchases you will be supporting our Gardens.
In September 2015, UNESCO held a very important conference at their headquarters in Paris, France. The conference was titled: "Botanists of the 21st Century: Roles, Challenges and Opportunities."
The forward of the publication of the conference proceedings reads, in part;
"Plants are of vital importance for life on Earth. Besides providing oxygen, the Plant
Kingdom is one of the bases which provides ecological, cultural, social and economic ecosystem services for the entire planet. [Plants] are inextricably linked to the welfare of humanity."
"Although the rise of botany dates back to the fifteenth century, we still have much to learn. The industrial revolution which began at the end of the 18th century and one of its corollaries, the green revolution, has induced major changes in the biosphere due, among other things, to the growing world population, new modes of exploitation of natural resources including agriculture and increasing urbanization. The erosion of biodiversity and natural ecosystems, and their effects on climate are among the major challenges of this century. How will botany adapt to this changing world and what contributions can botanists make to the global agenda for sustainable development in the 21st century? These questions were at the heart of the International Conference entitled “Botanists of the 21st century: roles, challenges, opportunities” held at UNESCO Headquarters and the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, France, from 22 to 24 September 2014. The participants represented science and research institutions, policy makers, international organizations, the public and private sector and the general public. This book is the compilation of presentations made at the Conference. At the beginning botany had a very wide scope which diversified and specialized in the twentieth century. Advances in technology (genetic engineering, geographic information systems, bioinformatics, modeling, etc.), the growing interest of the private sector, the recognition of local and indigenous knowledge, the need for teamwork and a multidisciplinary approach, the advent of citizen science, education and communication are among the topics that were discussed during the Conference."
Botanists of the 21st Century
by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
The above booklet, available here by clicking on the image above in .pdf form, is based on the proceedings of the UNESCO International conference “Botanists of the twenty-first century: roles, challenges and opportunities” held in September 2014 in Paris, France
This booklet was prepared and edited by Noëline R. Rakotoarisoa, Stephen Blackmore and Bernard Riera of BGCI.
It can also be found at this link: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002437/243791m.pdf
by Michael Largo
What happens when you rub an onion on your muscles? Is kudzu really more than a nuisance? Why do the British and Australians plant poison ivy in their gardens? The Big Bad Book of Botany holds the astonishing answers to all of these questions and more. From absinthe to magnolias and nutmeg to sweet grass, Michael Largo takes you through the historical, ecological, and agricultural evolution of hundreds of plant species. With over 140 photos and illustrations to accompany this fun A-to-Z encyclopedia, people of all ages will have a transformed understanding of plants and the natural world after reading it.
The Botanic Gardens at Kona Kai Resort and Gallery have previously exhibited many of the illustrations from this book.
Learn more about our previous Botanic Wonders Exhibition by clicking here.
What A Plant Knows
by Daniel Chamovitz
A modern and more credible "update" to The Secret Life of Plants (below), taking into account the 30+ years of botanical research conducted since The Secret Life of Plants' publication. Chamovitz discusses the fascinating ways in which people and plants are similar, focusing especially on plant senses and awareness. There is enough detail to satisfy someone with a botanical background but not so much that someone simply generally interested in the topic will become lost in and bored with technical terminology. The book is a real eye-opener that will give you a much greater appreciation of the nature and complexity of plants. Although most people see plants as not much more than rocks, plants are actually living creatures that experience and interact with their environment in many of the same ways as humans. Highly recommended.
The Botany of Desire
by Michael Pollan
In a very accessible writing style, Pollan explores the reciprocal relationships between people and four notable domesticated plants: the apple, tulip, potato and marijuana. He posits that these four plants have been domesticated to satisfy four basic human desires: sweetness, beauty, control and intoxication, respectively. He emphasizes the fact that although we most often view ourselves as using plants for our own benefit, we could easily flip things around to consider if and how plants, through their attractive characteristics, have domesticated us and "use" us for their survival and benefit. Pollan weaves extremely interesting history and anecdotes throughout the book, making it as entertaining as it is fascinating.
If you want a bit more about why this book is so very exciting and thought provoking, take a look at this TED video from 2007. Michael Pollan takes a "plants eye view..."
Plants as Persons
by Matthew Hall
As the subtitle indicates, this is a work exploring "philosophical botany." It has the feel of a textbook more than a novel, so you have to be really interested in the subject to make it through all the pages. Hall delves into historical aspects of philosophy to argue why plants are considered by most people to be non-sentient organisms, then presents reasons we should not be too hasty in dismissing the possibility that plants are sentient. The book will certainly make you re-evaluate your relationship with the plants around you, challenging you to see them as individuals who have interactions and relationships with the world around them much like other organisms, only in different ways.
The Secret Life of Plants
by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird
A seemingly earth-shattering work that presents plants as being extremely advanced in terms of sensory perception, emotion and spirituality (and even more advanced than humans in areas like ESP). If you had to classify this book, it would probably fall under "metaphysical botany." You have to take this book with a few grains of salt and know that many of the experiments in the book have not been replicated with enough consistency to be considered scientifically valid. STILL, the book is incredibly fascinating and it leaves you thinking that plants just might have some incredible capacities we have yet to uncover or fully appreciate, and that the people discussed in this book might have found clues to some of those capacities. A very enthralling, thought-provoking work that will no doubt lead you to do some of your own research into the subjects and experiments discussed in the book.