Book Review: The Light Eaters by Zoe Schlanger

The Light Eaters: How the Unseen World of Plant Intelligence Offers a New Understanding of Life on EarthThe Light Eaters: How the Unseen World of Plant Intelligence Offers a New Understanding of Life on Earth by Zoë Schlanger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this book fascinating. It has made me rethink how I interact with plants. I really don’t pay any attention to them and now I’m going to start. While I don’t believe in mystical mumbo-jumbo about how everything is connected, this book has made me realize that plants do communicate in their own ways – ways that we don’t yet understand and may never understand.

The book covers many examples of plant to plant or plant to insect communication. Plants, through what is currently thought to be airborne chemical compounds, can warn other plants of predators, usually insects. The plants, now warned, change the chemical structure of their leaves to make them taste bad to the invaders. Another example is a plant called boquila trifoliolata, which grows in Chile. This plant can mimic the look of many different plants. It can change its leaves to look like plants near it. Botanists don’t know how it does it. Some think it “sees”; some think it’s a chemical or microbiological transfer – they just don’t know.

One of the main points of this book is how much we do not know about plants, mostly because we haven’t looked. Perhaps it’s time we start.


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