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Connecting with Natural Plant Intelligence

Most of us think of plants as being silent and simple. They make food from sunshine, photosensitize, and in turn feed animals and humans. However, plants are very complex and are not as sedentary or solitary as we imagine. Even though they do not have eyes or ears, they do have very unique ways of perceiving their environment and adapting accordingly. Plants actively respond to the elements, nutrients, herbivores, and other predators around them through extensive and complex communication and cooperation. The plant kingdom is truly full of wondrous treasures.

Plant Intelligence Could plants have a memory or a nervous system? In the documentary, “How Plants Communicate & Think,” Francis Halle, a renowned botanist and emeritus professor at the University of Montpellier states, “The more genes an organism has the more evolved we perceive that it is.” [1] However, to the surprise of many botanists, plants have more genes to adapt than humans. Plants and animals have evolved together and have a symbiotic relationship. Plants feed the animals and the animals assist to carry the plant spores, pollinate the plants and disperse their seed. The plants’ rules of survival have developed through adaptation, communication and cooperation.

Botanist Dieter Volkmann Ph.D. is a leader in the research of plant intelligence at the University of Bonn, Germany. He is studying the way plants perceive and react to their environment; the ways they find light, air, and nutrients; as well as, how they communicate with each other. Not only are these perceptions and reactions observed as sensations from plants, but there is also some kind of consciousness in the plant world.

Plant Memory Do plants have a type of central nervous system that responds to stimulation, perception and previous experience? Recent advances in plant cell biology and neuroscience reveal surprising similarities between plants cells and neurons. “They have signal input and signal output poles, secrete signaling molecules via robust endocytosis-driven vesicle recycling apparatus, and are capable of sensory perception and integration of these multiple sensory perceptions into adaptive actions that serve for survival of organisms, harboring these cells specialized for signaling and communication. Moreover, neurons and plant cells have in common abilities to generate spontaneously action potentials, which convey electric signaling across tissues of multicellular organisms.” [2]

Plants can remember reactions, store a certain chemical signal and response for a later time. Dr. František Baluška is a biologist who has been studying the brain theory of plant roots. Dr. Baluška has found a physiological function at the tip of the plant root that can integrate chemical sensitivities to adapt. There is also a transition zone in the upper area of a plant root that contains cells that are also found in animal muscle tissue. In animals, these cells interact with the synapse of nerves, as well as with memory and thought.

The roots of a plant can process complex information, much like our nervous system, to communication with a plant to flourish or to go dormant. The plant’s neurobiology is similar in structure and molecular level as a vertebrate’s neuronal system. Plants’ cells may be different in function, but are very similar to neurons and synapses that form nerve circuits in animals. The mechanics may be different in plants, animals and humans, but the results are almost identical.

Plant Defense Over 400,000 species of plants cover the earth. Each one is remarkable, but none can survive on the earth alone. All life depends on connections that are vital for unique eco-systems to survive. Trees and plants can react to nutrients that are transported by fluids in the air and the earth. Also, by communicating through fungi and algae networks, plants are able to extend their roots to gather nutrients, and alert others plants in the area of any damage or infections.

“Mycorrhizal” describes the mutually beneficial relationship between the plant and root fungus. These specialized fungi colonize plant roots and extend far into the soil. Mycorrhizal fungal filaments in the soil are truly extensions of root systems and are more effective in nutrient and water absorption than the roots themselves. More than 90 percent of plant species in natural areas form a symbiotic relationship with the beneficial mycorrhizal fungi.

This plant/fungi relationship increases the surface absorption area of roots from 100 to 1,000 times, thereby greatly improving the ability of the plant to access soil resources. Several miles of fungal filaments can be present in less than a thimbleful of soil. Mycorrhizal fungi increase nutrient uptake not only by increasing the surface absorbing area of the roots, but also by releasing powerful enzymes into the soil that dissolve hard-to-capture nutrients; such as organic nitrogen, phosphorus, iron and other “tightly bound” soil nutrients.

This extraction process is particularly important in plant nutrition and explains why non-mycorrhizal plants require high levels of fertilization to maintain their health. Mycorrhizal fungi form an intricate web that captures and assimilates nutrients, conserving the nutrient capital in soils.” [3]

In the growth process plants produce a variety of compounds that can be divided into primary metabolites and secondary metabolites. Primary metabolites are essential for the survival of the plant and include; sugars, proteins and amino acids. Plants have their own survival mechanisms and can create their own anti-bodies.

Secondary metabolites were once believed to be waste products. They are not essential to the plant’s survival, but the plant does suffer without them. In order for the plants to stay healthy, secondary metabolism plays a key role in keeping all of the plant’s systems working properly. A common role of secondary metabolites in plants is as a defense mechanism. Secondary metabolites also act as signals for symbiotic bacteria; attractants for pollinators and seed-dispersing animals; allopathic agents in natural habitats; physical and chemical barriers to abiotic stressors such as, UV and evaporation; and endogenous regulators of plant growth hormones. Many secondary metabolites are also useful for healing in humans, such as essential oils.

Connecting Deeper with Plant Intelligence Humans are very much like plants; they draw in needed energy to nourish physical, emotional and spiritual states. This can essentially energize cells or cause increases in cortisol and catabolize cells, depending if there is an emotional trigger.

Knowing that plants have their own unique language, at a molecular level, to communicate with each other – which helps plants to prevent disease and repel pests – how can we connect with this to raise healing awareness for ourselves?

Dr. Olivia Bader-Lee suggests that the field of bioenergetics is ever evolving, and that studies on the plant and animal world will soon translate and demonstrate what energy metaphysicians have known all along: that humans can heal each other simply through energy transfer, just as plants do. “Humans can absorb and heal through other humans, animals, and any part of nature. That’s why being around nature is often uplifting, energizing, and healing for so many people. When energy studies become more advanced in the coming years, we will eventually see this translated to human beings as well,” states Bader-Lee. “The human organism is very much like a plant, it draws needed energy to feed emotional states and this can essentially energize cells or cause increases in cortisol and catabolize cells depending on the emotional trigger.” [2]

Plants have scientifically been shown to draw alternative sources of energy from other plants. Plants influence each other in many ways and they communicate through “nanomechanical oscillations:” vibrations on the tiniest atomic or molecular scale, or as close as you can get to telepathic communication.

I recently conducted an interview with Peter May, an essential oil distiller and owner of Windhorse Botanicals and Sonic Apothecary (plant music). He recommends several ways in which we can connect deeper with nature and the healing essence.

Peter stated, “We can use the elements and sound of the plants as a precursor to bridge the communication in healing ourselves. We can use the elements of earth - the medicine of the plants and trees; fire - from the warmth of the sun; and air - prana or life force. These precursors can assist us to quite our mind and learn a balanced and healthy state of being." [6]

Let us learn and create an inter-dependent partnership with plants, teaching us to balance and heal. Learning to adapt, communicate, and cooperate with each other and with ourselves from the essential nature of the marvelous plant kingdom.


1) Documentary: How Plants Communicate & Think


3) Mycorrhizal Fungi

4) Dr. Olivia Bader-Lee

5) František Baluška

6) Peter May- interview with Shanti Dechen, April 19, 2016 For more information on Peter’s trainings, products and plant music:

Other Resources

Documentary: In the Mind of Plants by Jacques Mitsch

PBS Documentary: What do Plants Talk About?

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