|MadSci Network: Botany|
Plants can sense light (phototropism, photomorphogenesis, photoperiodism) and gravity (gravitropism) and some can respond to touch (thigmotropism, thigmonasty) (Salisbury and Ross, 1985). As far as botanists have determined, plants do not have feelings, do not grow better when exposed to certain types of music, and cannot communicate with humans as claimed in the bestselling book "The Secret Life of Plants." Those claims have been debunked by real botanists (Hershey, 1995). Botany is unfortunately hampered by many misconceptions. However, the scientific aspects of plants are extremely fascinating, probably even more so than the false claims (Attenborough, 1995). Even nonvegetarians are indirectly eating plants because photosynthetic plants are at the base of our food chain. So we either eat plants directly or we eat animals that eat plants. Medical research has clearly shown that it is better for your health to eat a mostly vegetarian diet. It is also better for the environment because domestic animals pollute the environment with massive amounts of waste and eating animals is less efficient. The land area to support a human population eating plants is about one-tenth the area needed to support the same population that eats meat (Starr and McMillan, 1995). Strange as it seems, if you want to help plants, become a vegetarian. There are many opportunities if you want to help plants. You can support any of the following: conservation organizations, botanic gardens, arboretums, state parks, national parks, plant research at colleges and universities, efforts to save rainforests, efforts to fight weedy alien plants that are crowding out native species, and your town or city's shade tree commission. References Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Hershey, D.R. 1995. Plant Biology Science Projects. New York: Wiley. Salisbury, F.B. and Ross, C.W. 1985. Plant Physiology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Starr, C. and McMillan, B. 1995. Human Biology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. Answer on thigmotropism: http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/mar99/921961330.Bt.r.html
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