Tech

These Femme Petal(e)s Are No Pansies

A passionflower.
A passionflower.

In the New York Times op-ed, “Your Begonia Is Texting You,” Diane Ackerman, alerts us to the reality that plants may lack gray matter, but these green beings are far from being inert.

In fact, they aren’t even mild-mannered.

Some can be murderous, manipulative, seductive, deceitful, venomous, unscrupulous, sophisticated, and downright barbaric.

They do react to injury, fight to survive, act purposefully, enslave giants (through the likes of coffee, tobacco, opium), and gab endlessly among themselves.

They’re feisty fighters, living in a close-knit society and are zealously protective of their own kind.

Strawberry, bracken, clover, reeds, bamboo, ground elder and lots more all grow their own social networks—delicate runners (really, horizontal stems) linking a grove of individuals.

If a caterpillar chews on a white clover leaf, the message races through the colony, which ramps up its chemical weaponry.

Stress a walnut tree and it will brew its own caustic aspirin and warn its relatives to do the same … Passionflowers release cyanide, if their cell walls are broken by a biting insect or a fumbling human.

But “devious and dangerous as plants can be,” they still demand looking after.

In order to let them express their needs and sentiments, a group of unusual “diplomats,” who want to promote an “inter-species understanding,” have designed a D.I.Y. tool called “Botanicalls,” that allows plants to communicate with humans via texts, tweets, or phone calls.

Surely some playful wordsmiths need to dream up spirited texts for the botanicalling plants to send, telegrams of fulsome fawning or sarcastic taunt.

Maybe a little soft sop: “You grow, girl! Thanks for the T.L.C.” Or, think how potent it would be, in the middle of a dinner date, to receive a text from your disgruntled poinsettia that reads: “With fronds like you, who needs anemones?!”

You may want to step into the hallway to take a call from an elderly fauna by telling guests: “It’s my (pl)aunt Petunia calling. I need to take this.”

h/t: NYT

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