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What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Sensesby Daniel Chamovitz
Synopses & Reviews
How does a Venus flytrap know when to snap shut? Can it feel an insects tiny, spindly legs? And how do cherry blossoms know when to bloom? Can they remember the weather?
For centuries we have marveled at plant diversity and form — from Charles Darwin's early fascination with stems to Seymour Krelborn's distorted doting in Little Shop of Horrors. But now, in What a Plant Knows, the renowned biologist Daniel Chamovitz presents an intriguing and scrupulous look at how plants themselves experience the world — from the colors they see to the schedules they keep. Highlighting the latest research in genetics and more, he takes us into the inner lives of plants and draws parallels with the human senses to reveal that we have much more in common with sunflowers and oak trees than we may realize. Chamovitz shows how plants know up from down, how they know when a neighbor has been infested by a group of hungry beetles, and whether they appreciate the Led Zeppelin you've been playing for them or if they're more partial to the melodic riffs of Bach. Covering touch, sound, smell, sight, and even memory, Chamovitz encourages us to consider whether plants might even be aware.
A rare inside look at what life is really like for the grass we walk on, the flowers we sniff, and the trees we climb, What a Plant Knows offers us a greater understanding of science and our place in nature.
“Enough absorbing science to concede that plants continue to inspire and amaze us.” The Wall Street Journal
"This elegantly written account of plant biology will change the way you see your garden...Chamovitz lets us see plants in a new light, one which reveals their true wonder." The Guardian
"Thick with eccentric plant experiments and astonishing plant science." Sunday Times (UK)
"Plants may be brainless, eyeless and devoid of senses as we know them, but they have a rudimentary 'awareness', says biologist Daniel Chamovitz. In this beautiful reframing of the botanical, he reveals the extent and kind of that awareness through a bumper crop of research." Nature
"For everyone who has wondered at Mimosa, the suddenly snapping Venus flytrap or the way a sunflowers head unerringly turns to follow the sun, Daniel Chamovitz has written the perfect book." American Scientist
“In a lively and delightful discourse that aligns botany with human biology, [Chamovitz] articulates his findings, about plants and the senses in accessible, often whimsical observations that make complex science not only comprehensible but fun to ponder.” Booklist
“By comparing human senses to the abilities of plants to adapt to their surroundings, the author provides a fascinating and logical explanation of how plants survive despite the inability to move from one site to another. Backed by new research on plant biology, this is an intriguing look at a plant's consciousness.” Kirkus
"Of the dozens of books I read in 2012, several stand out. But there's one I keep coming back to, thumbing through it, letting people know about it. It's Daniel Chamovitz's What A Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses....It's incredibly interesting material, presented in an entertaining and fun way — in about only 140 pages. What A Plant Knows is a nice fit on my shelf of gardening books — and that's where it will stay. Although I've recommended the book to several people, I've ungraciously not let them borrow my copy. I fear I won't get it back." Chicago Tribune
About the Author
Daniel Chamovitz, Ph.D., is the director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University. He has served as a visiting scientist at Yale University and at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and has lectured at universities around the world. His research has appeared in leading scientific journals. Chamovitz lives with his wife and three children in Hod HaSharon, Israel.
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