Brilliant Green by Stefano Mancuso & Alessandra Viola (December Book)

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Had an excellent book club meeting today, hosted by Pat….MGBUDSBOOKCLUB says thank you!   Some notes from the reading are included below.  “Clubbers”, please share your thoughts.

Had a total of 8 people and our group gave the book 4 smiley faces.  Lowest was 2  and the highest score was 5 (on a scale of 1 SF to 5 SF).

One thought shared was that the author had a manifesto about plants in general.   After hearing that comment, I smiled, and nodded by head.

Post #1

Brilliant Green was a 5 smiley faces out of 5.

The book was excellent on more than  one level.  It provided information on the amazing attitudes of plant, and it also provided a though provoking look at the errors of human understanding.  Are we “superior” to plants, or do we have it the wrong way around?

December 2018


  1. Island Press publishes stuff about environmental topics
  2. create a good frame work for the world
  3. copy write 2015
  4. business in Washington DC
  5. forward:  plants are not passive
    1. humans are dependent on plants
    2. it human arrogance to not know the smarts of plant
    3. there is good science behind this book
    4. Introduction:
      1. do plants solve problems?
      2. work with higher animals?
      3. or passive/unfeeling organisms
      4. Do plants have a soul?
      5. time for rethinking plants
      6. how did they get here?
      7. relationship between humans and plants
      8. plants are sessile
      9. understanding plants are very important:
        1. energy
        2. food
        3. raw materials
        4. medicine
      10. Plants have at least 15 senses
        1. like calculate gravity
        2. electromagnetic fields
        3. humidity
        4. can analyze chemical gradients
      11. They could be more like us in the social sphere
      12. How they orient themselves to the world
      13. Plants talk to each other
        1. SOME ARE HONEST
        3. some are generous
        4. some are manipulate
  6. The don’t have a brain
  7. Charles Darwin said plants were much more advanced organism than they were thought to be.
  8. plants can receive signals form their environment, process the information, and devise solutions for their survival,
  9. Plants could live very well without us

Chapter 1

The  Root of the Problem (6%)

  1. In the beginning there was green
  2. god created animals
  3. In the bible plants were created on the third day
  4. With photosynthesis it can be figured 3.5 billion years ago
  5. so called modern man appeared only 200000 years ago (a few seconds ago in the evolution of time
  6. Some think of plants with their head in the ground
  7. Then the universal flood (not a word in scripture)
  8. wasn’t that important  (olive with an olive branch)
  9. Noah plants a vineyard (maybe a seed noah brought along the ark)
  10. Are some plants sacred?  like cannabis?
  11. Writers depict plants as a static landscape
  12. Did plants have live or a soul in endless debate before Christ.
  13. Plant can reproduce…are they different from humans

The Fathers Of Botany: Linnaeus and Darwin (11%)

  1. Linnaeus was a classifier
  2. plants have a sex then he studied reproductive organs
  3. Plants do sleep
  4. different positions of leaves and branches (for several centuries it wasn’t questioned)
  5. It’s an activity in plants that relate to animals (later he questioned that assumption)
  6. He was also questioned about a plant eating an insect (venus fly trap)
  7. His paper in 1755 was titled Sleep of Plants
  8. plants were thought of the lowest level of life
  9. plants even prey on rats and other small animals
  10. Only the most evolved animals sleep.  In 2000 this was disproven by a fruit fly

Humans /are the Most Evolved Beings on the Planet.  Or Are They?

  1. Referring to the Book of Wisdom
  2. Some species are more evolved
  3. Darwin: origin of species
  4. We are all at the end of our evolutionary chain
  5. Darwin considers plants to be the most  extraordinary living things he had ever encountered
  6. experiment where he saw the plants root move.
  7. The roots are similar to the brain.  It’s like a animal brain.
  8. Plants should  be considered intelligent species
  9. A naturalist (Fedrico Delpino) was convinced that plants have intelligence.
  10. The use of nectar to attract ants (defense of host plant)

Plants:  Always Second Fiddle

  1. the stability of the genome
  2. work done on plants
  3. research  on petunia
  4. plants are usually used for experiment because of the similarity and for ethical values
  5. What researcher would concentrate on plants instead of animals?
  6. The plant world is underappreciated, though we need plants to survive.

Chapter 2

The Plant:  A Stranger (18%)

  1. human being have lived with plants on earth for 200,000 years
  2. Can you describe a animal, then an oak tree?
  3. what about it’s social direction?
  4. plants  can communicate with themselves and with animals

Euglena versus  Paramecium: An Even Match?

  1. evolution is slow transformation to the environment
  2. the first plant was algae
  3. using photosynthesis takes place
  4. plant cell is similar to a animal cell
  5. comparing the two cells (organisms)
  6. These two cells shows some type of evolution
  7. compare with finding food
  8. They both can reproduce
  9. carry out photosynthesis  (unique)   why not a swimming neuron
  10. have chosen to stay in one place

A Plant is a Colony

  1. For a plant; being eaten is no big deal….not true for an animal
  2. plants operate without the use of organs
  3. make decision without having a brain.
  4. A plant can grow back after 90-95% of themselves have been eaten
  5. Think of the pruning  for rejuvenating growth
  6. A plant is made us of the same type of module….like lego blocks

A Problem of Tempos (23%)

  1. animals live a certain matter of time
    1. human beings about 80 years
    2. a bee less than 2 months
    3. giant tortoise more than 100 years
  2. have different rhythms  (hibernation)
  3. plant are just very slow
  4. moves to protect itself, or get sun
  5. Plants more, but they are still (motionless)
  6. No sensory experience for plants
    1. absolute dependency
    2. very survival dependent on plants

Life Without Plants:  Impossible

  1. If  plants disappeared on earth tomorrow, human life would only continue for a few more weeks
  2. Are humans the Lord of nature
  3. Plants are 99.5percent on the biomass of theplanet
    1. human and animals beings include .1 to .5 percent
    2. plants are queens of living things.
  4. Plants are the base of the food chair
  5. Their are six plants:  (for calories)
    1. sugar cane
    2. corn
    3. rice
    4. wheat
    5. potato
    6. soy
  6. Above provides the nutritional  base for all human kind
  7. Meat seems to come from domesticated animals (like chicken, beef, or pork)  easier to raise.
  8. Feeding people is a way plants continue to evolve by instigating protection.
  9. Oxygen come from the air
  10. Photosynthesis provides much energy
  11. All energy comes from a concentration inside plant through the transformation of solar energy into chemical energy.   Photosynthesis
  12. almost all energy that comes from the sun started with plants
  13. plants are also used for medicine.
  14. Hospital also like plant
    1. study with children
    2. study on test with view of plants
  15. Plants positively influence our mood, concentration, & learning (general-well being)

Chapter 3

The Senses of Plants  (28%)

  1. Do plants vegetate?
  2. plants have five senses plus 15 others!
  3. the senses were developed for the plant themselves
  4. Do plants see us?  we need to define what is sight:
    1. do not have eyes
    2. visual stimuli
    3. can intercept light
      1. being in shade is being poor
      2. effect development
      3. move because of light
      4. could grow be from escape from shade
      5. rapid growth to get new light
        1. like investing
        2. could kill the plant
    4. plants don’t concentrating their functions in a single area of the body.
    5. There plant is covered with tiny eyes (roots, the tendrils, shoots, and wood)
    6. In moderns labs plants are cultivated in gel.
      1. rapid growth is they are looking for darkness
      2. these roots move a great deal
      3. In lab experiments the roots are almost always kept in full light
    7. In autumn the plant “closes its eyes”
      1. loose their leaves
      2. It just rests
      3. Gottlieb Haberlandt’s hypothesized that plants utilize their epidermal cells to help reconstruct real images

Smell   (32%)

  1. they have super fine “noses”
  2. plants smell with their entire body
  3. like millions of cells for smell
  4. from roots the leaves
  5. Smell is used to  provide communication to other plants or animals
  6. creating a smell cost energy
  7. Methyel jasmonate molecule “I’m not well”
  8. different language for a common root
  9. They warn of possible danger
  10. makes leaves bad for insects

Taste (34%)

  1. Roots can determine the minerals or chemical gradients
  2. seeksout nitrates
  3. phosphate
  4. potassium
  5. We know this because the plant produces more roots exactly where the concentration of minerals are.
  6. Invests energy for things in the future  (sign of intelligence)
  7. talk about taste and carnivores plants (huntingplants)
  8. shows leaves catching insects [Venus fly trap]
  9. 1875 t=with Darwin time;  talking about plant killing small mammals
  10. these plants evolved to capture more nitrogen
  11. a carnivorous plant  m has the ability to metabolize a caught animal and making enzymes that break down the nutrients for the leaf to absorb.
  12. The lure victums
    1. a fragrant
    2. sugary secretion (a trap)
  13. Three little hairs is used for the trigger, then two (20 seconds)
  14. once the trap is closed the leaf will start releasing digestive enzymes (38%)
  15. insect triggers trap after touching the hair twice
  16. “the trap sac” lures in  by nector
  17. inside the trap insects find digestive fluid
  18. It transforms to a nutrient broth that will be slowly absorbed
  19. These plants are Nepenthes which also eats  small reptiles and lizards, and fairly  large  mice
  20. 600 species of these types of plants have been identified.
  21. animal bodies are also used for the nitrogen it gives off to the soil when it decomposes.
  22. A violet plant grows underground leaves that can trap nematodes (a common small worm)
  23. These plants have sticky leaves which trap the insets


  1. Uses mechanosensitive channels  on the epidermal cell
  2. these sensors are activated when the plant  touches something,  or experiences  vibration.
  3. Does a plant notice when it’s being touched?
    1. Look at Mimosa  pudica
      1. it retracts is leaves as soon as it’s brushed against
      2. it’s not a conditioned reflex
      3. it’s a defensive trait
      4. this shows the dependence and dependence of touch (40%)
      5. it’s true measure, but it’s also a defensive move
      6. A stimulus is not  dangerous
      7. mimosa plants were closed while walking aroubd paris’
      8. learned that the plant knows what’s dangerous
    2. If a root meets an obstacle it twist itself around the obstacle, itmoves accordingly.
    3. It’s been documented that the number of climbing plants are increasing
    4. you need to reach the lite


Sounds are vibration,  No air, no vibration, no sound1.  Plants hear about vibration

  1.  Earth conducts vibrations
  2.  Plants they hear   from  the soil
  3.  bodies vibrate with the sound
  4. music is enjoyable for people
  5. It’s all about sound frequencies 100 to 500 Hz
  6. chooses the direction of the growth (from movement titled phonotropism)
  7. the roots perceive vibrations?    we don’t know yet?d

In a 2012 study it was shown that roots produce sound

Maybe an underground communication system

….. And Fifteen Other Senses!

Plants have five senses similar to our;

  1. sight
  2. smell
  3. taste
  4. touch
  5. hearing

They have a least 15 other senses that we don’t have.   Plants are very sensitive!.

These other senses are;

  1. measure the soils humidity
  2. water source
  3. sense gravity
  4. works with electromagnetic fields (influence the growth)
  5. chemical  gradients in air or on the ground

These sensors are located in  the roots, or the leaves

Roots grow toward gravity

Chapter 4

Communication in Plants

Plants  use an information network  of other plants  and certain animals to  extend the reach of their exploration beyond their own organism.   They can obtain small services (like reproducing and propagating).

Communication inside the Plant

communication is transmissions of information from a sender to a receiver.  You need 3 things for communication:

  1.  message
  2. sender
  3. a receiver

these need to be in separate organisms

Plant  organisms are not equipped with biological structures for transmission of electrical signal.  Plants don’t have nerves.  They use their roots.  This has to be transmitted rapidly for the plant to stay alive.

The Vascular System of Plants

To transmit data a plant uses electrical, hydraulic, and chemical signals

electrical system; customized for plants

from one cell to another (short trips) by  opening up a cellular wall, called plasmodesmata.  For longer trips they use the main vascular system  (root to the leaves)

Plants are equipped with a hydraulic system that’s used to move materials from one point to another.  Plants have a circulatory apparatus that permits the transportation of liquids from the bottom to top.  (has no central pump…like the heart)  System uses wood and salt to transport sugars that’s produced by photosynthesis from the leaves to the Nfruit and roots.

This circulation is important because water is lost by the  leaves.  Leaves will alsoadjust is the roots sense that there is little water  [p.79]

This is how the plant keeps it’s energy with the sugar by photosynthesis moving from site of production (leaves) to other parts of  the organism.  Leaves be used as a communication  medium.

Plant loses water through transpiration, open and close stomata (electrical signal control if it’s open or closed.

If you  break off a branch, leaf, or stem of a flower you will witness a liquid comingout of the wound.   This causes  hydraulic failure in the plant.   A message is then transmittedin the plant “where’s the leak”, the plant finds the leak and produces a scar.

Plants do not have a brain.   The root can talk to a branch.    Plants utilize multiple data processing centers.  Plants can communicate from their roots to their crown (and vice versa)

Communication between plants

Plant language;  talk with chemical molecules.  Plants can talk to each other by touching the others crown.

Plant can recognize their kin.  Plants don’t have families.  A plantr uses tgeir roots to protect the plants property.  To dominate the area.

Have roots talking to roots.

The roots have to develop communication with the fungi. 57% page 92

Not all bacteria are welcome, there is a conversation made by plants.   Nitrogen does the fixing of bacteria before it’s welcomed with the roots.  This conversation is called the NOD factor, whose recognition by the plant is the first step in the plant’s granting the bacteria free entry to the root.

Take mitochondria (energy centers of our cells).  Without these organelles situated within each cell, the existence of higher forms of life would be inconceivable.  Mitochondria is the result of symbiosis that permits primitive bacteria endowed with a powerful  oxidation metabolism (capable to produce energy).  page [92]   Mitochondria was characteristic similar to bacteria like closed, circular, double-helical DNA.

These symbiotic relationships are fundamental for all forms of life on the planet.

If we could transfer the symbiotic association between plant and nitrogen-fixing bacteria, we could change the face of agriculture forever.

  1. there would be no nitrogen fertilizers
  2. no  pollutants of the soil
    1. ground water
    2. rivers
    3. oceans
  3. no more algae of the Adriac
  4. increase crop production
  5. maybe feed the world without polluting it

Since the end of WWII the productivity of crops and soil has grown continuously because of the use of chemical fertilizer, and creating new plant varieties (like resistance).

Now, the crop yield has been  interrupted.  The yield is starting to decrease with climate change, while the worlds population continues to grow.

We need to find the means to create a new “Green  Revolution”

Need to create a symbiosis of nitrogen fixing bacteria to all crops.  This would be a breakthrough.

Communication between Plants and Animals

How do plant  manage commo with the outside world.  Plants can’t move from the place that they were born.  Sometimes they use air as a carrier, sometimes water, or they use animals.  Plants attempt to persuading animals to help them with pollination (58%) [page 94]  Plants commo will help feed the world.

Plant defense ID’s the aggressor:   Like a chemical substance in it’s leaf.  It will then sprout new leaves.  Plants work  on the theory “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

It all has to do with survival.   It’s like an “arms race” with insects and plants.  Story of the lima bean (p.96)

Plan sex has all to do with pollination.  Pollen must be transmitted between two plants (male and female).

Plants are broadly divided into three categories.  The first is the hermaphroditic, whose flowers have both male and female sex organs.  In theory flower can fertilize itself on its own.  Grasses also self-fertilize.  (p.99)   Talk of self pollination,  even a plaqnt with both male and female sex organs.

Its like having self pollination which deigns evolution.

Modern plants rely on animal “vectors” for pollination are insects.     Pollen coulduse air, but it’s not that efficient..   Cactus uses bats as vectors.  Plants use nectar to transport pollen.  Insect stay loyal to the first type of species it first visited.

Honest and dishonest plants.    Plants change the color of the leaves to influence “new” vectors..  The plant can create sense of fruit.

Humans are the best vectors for  plants to use.  The plants please us.  No one does anything for nothing!  Dispersing the seed over a large area,    and to stay away from other plants.

fruits are used for animal to spread their seeds (most productive system).

All plants protect their fruit by the ripeness of the fruit.  Could even be a monkey, fish, or even ants

Chapter 5

Plant Intelligence

“Dominant” means obtaining   more living space at other species expense.    The biomass is only 0.3% of  plants.     Are  we in the domination of the earth.   Can we speak of plant intelligence.   Plants are placed in one place.    Structure of a plant is very consistent.  Does a device need a organ  to communicate.  Intelligence is the way you solve problems.  Can machine think?   Machines    can do many major things!

Intelligence unites not divide.  Intel  is a property of life. (73%)

Intel unites so it doesn’t divide

Plants defend themselves, they hunt, are true problem  solvers.  No intel means no life?

Charles Darwin and the intelligence of plants (known biotanist about movement)  especially the roots (does it act as a brain?).   He thought brain was like the tip of the roots.  The root tip is very sensitive.

The Intelligent Plant

No brain, does his mean no intelligence, it’s not a magic organ.  Talked about s0nynch of clapping hands do plants do the same thing?  This is somehow a similarity with humans.  Some moles (one-cell) can  do terrific things!  We need to acknowledge the intelligence of plants.

Do plants sleep (is it for the soul or body?).   It was found that fruit flies sleep.    Flowers change in the morning and in the night (p.144).  Needs a sleep study!  Or, the useof a flower  clock (can tell the time of day by looking at this plant).

Plants have their own position when it becomes dark.   Plant sleep is in parallel  to animals.


  • moves very little
  • mediator between animals and suns energy
  • plants have a universal presences on  earth
  • will there be a plant internet?(p.151)
  • plants (thousands) are becoming extinct
  • Humans beings know scarcely 5 to 10 percent of the plant species that 95 percent of the most important medicines come from
  • Plants have rights
  • [complete]












One thought on “Brilliant Green by Stefano Mancuso & Alessandra Viola (December Book)

  1. What does it mean when “an expert” asserts the plant world can calculate risks and benefits and plan for the future? Author Stafan Mancuso is head of the plant neurology lab, based in Italy. He and co-author Alessandra Viola walk us through the history of how we humans thought about plants back to Aristotle, who proposed that plants had a soul, and Charles Darwin, who wrote a book on the movements of plants. With scientists only recently agreeing that other animals have consciousness, it is safe to say that currently no consensus on whether or not the behaviors we see in plants can be called intelligent. Where Brilliant Green is strongest is that the book makes the reader question how we think about other living creatures, and the terminology we use to describe concepts like problem-solving, communication, and cognition. The author does so by using some purposely challenging terms to describe plant behavior, such as “choice,” “knowing,” “calculating,” and “planning.” Where the book falls short is backing up the use of his claims with hard evidence, or acknowledging the short-comings of some of the studies Mancuso cites as evidence for plants’ incredible abilities. That said, if we think of all living forms as being on a continuum, then our differences are ones of “degree, not kind.”


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