Can Plants Feel? Unmasking Plant Intelligence with Paco Calvo and Natalie Lawrence
Play • 1 hr 6 min

Have you ever wondered if plants have intelligence and emotions in the same way that humans do? Plant intelligence is a topic that has been gaining more attention in recent years. The idea that plants are not just passive organisms, but actively respond to their environment and make decisions, is fascinating. To delve deeper into this subject, we are joined by two experts in the field: Paco Calvo, a professor of philosophy of science and the principal investigator at the MINT Lab, and Natalie Lawrence, a writer and illustrator with a Ph.D. and MSc in the history and philosophy of zoology. Together, they will share their knowledge and insights on plant intelligence and explore the ways in which plants communicate, learn, and make decisions. Whether you're a gardener, a scientist, or simply curious about the natural world, this episode will give you a new perspective on the intelligence of plants.

In this episode, we learn:

  • [06:32] Who is Professor Paco Palvo?
  • [07:01] Why is MINT Lab in the philosophy department instead of the plant science department?
  • [09:28] Who is Natalie Lawrence? 
  • [10:00] The relationship between animals and plants: biophilia
  • [13:34] What is anthropophilia?
  • [16:26] What role do houseplants play in our relationship with nature?
  • [18:04] How humans have shaped the phenotype, or characteristics, of plants through agriculture
  • [20:09] What special message would you engrave on your wind chime?
  • [22:40] The best way to sleep better and feel calmer naturally in no time!
  • [25:58] Different types of intelligence displayed by plants
  • [26:39] How do we see from a plant’s perspective?
  • [27:27] Tip 1: Observe the plants’ behavior through time-lapse photography
  • [27:45] Tip 2: Monitor the plants’ electrophysiological states
  • [28:14] Tip 3: Observe the plant holistically through naked eyes (the most important!)
  • [32:41] Melatonin synthesis in plants: what we can learn 
  • [34:57] How vines (climbing plants) have evolved to locate host trees through senses like "sniffing"
  • [36:59] Where to get the best quality and variety of seeds for ease of planting experience this year!
  • [38:35] Sourcing a wide variety of high-quality soil, fertilizer, potty mix, and more!
  • [40:24] What are some of the ways vines (climbing plants) can find their host trees?
  • [42:04] Are plants smarter? (Hint: It’s not what you think!)
  • [44:07] What are the limits of technology when it comes to understanding plant intelligence?
  • [46:56] Do plants have feelings? 
  • [50:24] Do plants understand music?
  • [53:35] What is plant blindness?

Mentioned in our conversation:

For a deeper dive into biophilia and lesser-known plant abilities,

check out the full show notes and blog here!

Thank you to our episode sponsors:

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