Plants are in constant communication with each other. … Any place that roots touch other roots or their shared mycelial network, they can also exchange chemistries, medicines. One plant will send out a chemical distress call. The others will respond with precise antibiotics, antifungals, antimicrobials, or pesticides to help. Like my chickens when they sight a hawk, plants will give out an alarm call when a predator is near. Lima beans will release chemicals that warn other lima beans when they are being attacked by spider mites. When something ambulatory brushes past a plant in the woods, not only does the affected plant respond by stiffening as best it can, it also sends out a chemical warning that allows all the other plants nearby to stiffen their branches in preparation.
And there’s more. Buhner talks about archipelagos of plant communities, groupings of interconnecting plants around a dominant or keystone species, usually a tree. These archipelagoes form in response to mysterious and unpredictable cues, and often announce the wholesale moveent of ecosystems. The process begins with an outsider or pioneer plant, who literally prepares the soil for its cohorts. When the soil is ready, the nurse plant sends out the chemical message, join me. …
Once established, the keystone plant then calls the bacteria, mycelia, plants, insects, and other animals necessary to build a healthy and resilient community. The keystone’s chemistries arrange the other species and direct their behavior. “This capacity of keystone species to ‘teach’ their plant communities how to act was widely recognized in indigenous and folk taxonomies.” Elder trees are called elders for a reason.
— The Vegetarian Myth page 88, talking about The Lost Language of Plants by Stephen Harrod Buhner.
And on and on about the amazingness of trees. Using 2/3 of their water to feed other beings, making masses of chemicals for other species, living for thousands of years. “They literally control life on earth.” I swoon. I love appreciating plant activities.
When I was vegetarian I would regularly find myself in conversations with folks who loved animals and joked that as vegetarians, their role was to kill all plants. I know it’s a joke, but I did find plant appreciation kind of lacking overall in vegetarian discussions. Some love for produce sometimes (local tomatoes, etc), but it’s funny to me to read this wide-eyed tree worship as part of an author’s journey to meat eating.