The Human Side of Plants

“All truths point to a universal truth; all the divisions of nature are closely akin to one another.”

Rancho la Puerta is a mostly media-free retreat that provides guests the opportunity to unplug from television and Internet for a week, as much or as little as they choose to do so. In its place, the ranch offer movie nights and an extensive book and music library that guests can patronize during their stay.

I brought plenty of books to last me through the week, as I do on all trips, but recognizing that they were primarily connected to work in some way, I ended up setting them aside in favor of some light fare that I found in the library. However, as a plant and nature nut, the line between work and play is nearly impossible to maintain. I could not help but find my way over to the library’s Baja ecology resources and guidebooks as I required help in identifying the foreign flora and fauna that lives on and around the ranch. I simply could not wait until we got home to begin researching the life nearby.

While in the library, Davin took some photos of the older books, and it was through him that I was introduced to “The Human Side of Plants” by Royal Dixon (1914), an early predecessor to books like The Secret Life of Plants that tried to uncover and prove sentience in plants scientifically.

“Plants no longer are lifeless things labelled and grouped under ponderous Latin titles; they are highly developed organisms, which see, hear, taste, feel, walk, swim, run, fly, jump, skip, hop, roll, tumble, set traps and catch fish; decorate themselves that they may attract attention; powder their faces; imitate birds, animals, serpents, stones; play hide and seek; blossom underground; protect their children, and send them forth into the world prepared to care for themselves — indeed, do all of those things which we do ourselves!” – The Human Side of Plants by Royal Dixon (1914).

You can read this book for free online via The Internet Archive. Pieces of the follow-up documentary to “The Secret Life of Plants” book are available on YouTube.

In related news, my partner Davin and I have started a side project called The Natural Interest Concern (aka The NICe), based on the name we coined for our imagined two-person naturalist society. We have loftier and sillier ideas for the future of this project, but to begin we’ll be using it to record and share some of our further explorations in the natural world as we go on excursions near and far.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

Subscribe to get weekly updates from Gayla

3 thoughts on “The Human Side of Plants

  1. The ‘Secret Life Of Plants’ and ‘Secrets Of The Soil’ are 2 of my favorite gardening-related books. Have you read the former all the way through?

    I don’t think the research in them is particularly top-notch, but the overall message is bang on. Also, ‘The Secret Teachings Of Plants’ and ‘The Lost Language Of Plants’ are brilliant.

  2. Loved flipping through the pages of “The Human Side of Plants” on the Open Library site. The chapter titles are fabulous. Plants that Rob, Plunder & Murder — oh my :-).

    Rancho la Puerta sounds like the perfection destination for Gayla, the plant explorer.

  3. I love the idea of a two-person naturalist society! That is so intriguing to me, and I love the site so far. Very neat.

    I’ve had The Secret Life of Plants on my to-watch list for awhile, maybe I’ll have some time today to watch that. And thank you for the link to the book, that looks awesome as well.

    This year I will be exploring more of my botanical and ecological interests, and I think these are some good things to start with. :)

Comments are closed.