Awareness of plants and fungi (consciousness in nature)

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Awareness of plants and fungi (consciousness in nature)

Postby sage-borodin » Thu May 11, 2017 10:11 am

I had a very bizarre experience recently... I was in Hawaii, and in our botanical garden there is a very large dead tree, and one limb of this tree sticks for out over the land, and Banisteriopsis caapi, a large hallucinogenic south American vine is planted at the bottom of this tree, and it just has swarmed up this tree, and covered it with greenery, but it wouldn't go out onto this one limb that's stuck out, and it bothered my sense of symmetry that this vine would not completely cover this tree, and I even thought about trying to climb up into the tree and thread it out
onto this limb to get it to do what I wanted, so I was sitting, looking at this tree and this situation, and actually thinking about it, and suddenly, the limb fell, it broke off, and then I thought, the vine sensed that it was unstable, it would not invade this domain that it sensed was structurally unstable, well then and I said to myself "well how could it? What is the mechanism of this sensing of instability? And a friend of mine said "well perhaps the wind impacts on weakened wood differently than on un-rotted wood, and perhaps rhythms in the tree tell it to stay away them, and then I realized, if one plant has that kind of sensitivity to to the entering into a domain of danger, what must the ecosystem of this planet be doing in reaction to what we are doing to the planet?

-terence mckenna

( I could not find this McKenna quote transcribed anywhere online, so I transcribed it myself from 54 minutes into the "metamorphosis" lecture, which also features Ralph Abraham and Rupert sheldrake, as well as musical pieces from time to time backing the speaker, I am uncertain of the lectures official name, I'm guessing it's one of the "trialogues", I have this lecture saved onto my tablet, and transcribed it word for word while typing this post ) ... sode/8243/
In the above link we can watch the documentary "what plants talk about" this documentary outlines ways in which plants may be aware of their surroundings and how they are actively responding to them, for example Nicotiana attenuata plants will be fed on by Hawkmoth caterpillars (Manduca sexta), so, in defense the Nicotiana attenuata plant produces trichomes which these caterpillars are attracted to and will eat, however, little does the caterpillar know that the treat which it is consuming also contains chemicals which will give the caterpillars position away to its predators. The plant senses a threat, and through some fairly advanced chemical processes is able to manage the problem.
When attacked by herbivores, plants produce toxic secondary metabolites that function as direct defenses, as well as indirect defenses that attract and reward predators of the offending herbivores. These indirect defenses include both nutritive rewards such as extra floral nectar, as well as informational rewards, such as the production and release of volatile compounds that betray the location of feeding herbivores to predators. Herbivory of Nicotiana attenuata by the tobacco hornworm (Manduca larvae) alters the volatile profiles of both the plant and larval headspace. Herbivory-elicited specific changes in the volatile profiles are detected by arthropod predators of Manduca larvae. The known predators that perceive volatile cues induced by Manduca herbivory of N. attenuata are insects that target Manduca at early developmental stages, when the larvae are still small; large, late-instar larvae may have outgrown these predation risks. However, here we offer evidence that branched chain aliphatic acids derived from the digestion of plant O-acyl sugars from trichomes may betray Manduca larvae to lizard predators during late developmental stages as well.

Secondary example:
Taking a closer look at the wild tobacco plant (which grows in the Southwestern United States), a team of scientists from the Max-Planck-Institute in Jena, Germany have found that it resorts to a very different, less direct defense: when an herbivore predator such as the hawkmoth larva attacks a wild tobacco plant, the plant releases a volatile chemical compound (VOC) into the environment. These compounds signal to other predatory insects that there is a quick meal to be had. Indeed, the VOC leads them straight to their prey ... nemys-ene/

Nicotinia attenuata also has some others tricks up its sleeve, it can switch pollinators.

Either a type of humming bird or the hawkmoth can pollinate the plant. The hawkmoth however also leaves eggs which hatch into destructive larva. If the hawkmoth caterpillars become too invasive, the plant will sense this, and choose to switch pollinators. It does this by opening its flowers at a different time, and releasing a different mix of chemical compounds.
Nicotinia attenuata, a type of wild US tobacco, is usually pollinated by hawkmoths. To lure them in, it opens its flowers at night and releases alluring chemicals. But pollinating hawkmoths often lay their eggs on the plants they visit and the voracious caterpillars start eating the plants. Fortunately for the plant, it has a back-up plan. It stops producing its moth-attracting chemicals and starts opening its flowers during the day instead. This simple change of timing opens its nectar stores to a very different pollinator that has no interest in eating it – the black-chinned hummingbird ... mingbirds/

There are many other examples, such as the behavior of plant root systems, which when observed, display behavior similar to foraging animals, the quickly move past areas of poor nutrients, and will.slow and "graze" in areas of high nutrients.

Then there is the dodder vine. This parasitic vine has no root system and must quickly locate a suitable host plant. Studies have shown this plants ability to detect the plants around it, and choose the most suitable host.

Any time you use the term "plant consciousness" most will automatically dismiss your case, however, I feel the above demonstrates that plants appear to be aware of their environments, and that they actively respond to these environments. One must rethink how consciousness can be defined. Plants move on a different time scale, so time lapse photography is generally required, also, plants communicate primarily through chemistry, which is not as overt as behavior, and thus is easily overlooked or discounted.

When terence McKenna said "if one plant has that kind of sensitivity to to the entering into a domain of danger, what must the ecosystem of this planet be doing in reaction to what we are doing to the planet?"

I was automatically reminded of concepts presented by Paul Stamets regarding networks of fungal mycelium acting as a "natural internet", as it were.

I could not find any good stamets transcriptions on the issue, and was forced to settle for the following excerpts:

I could not agree more with the following statement:
I believe ecosystems are conscious," he says. "These mycelia networks, like the Internet, share information on changes in the environment such as the availability of new food sources or responses to cataclysmic changes. So really these are information sharing networks. I think they are microneurological networks and I think science will prove they have a form of consciousness that we do not recognize -Paul stamets

Below is a misc. Excerpt on the topic:
Hidden beneath the surface and entangled in the roots of Earth’s astonishing and diverse plant life, there exists a biological superhighway linking together the members of the plant kingdom in what researchers call the “wood wide web”. This organic network operates much like our internet, allowing plants to communicate, bestow nutrition, or even harm one another.

The network is comprised of thin threads of fungus known as mycelium that grow outwards underground up to a few meters from its partnering plant, meaning that all of the plant life within a region is likely tapped into the network and connected to one another. The partnership of the roots of plants and the fungi is known as mycorrhiza and is beneficial for both parties involved; plants provide carbohydrates to the fungi and in exchange, the fungi aids in gathering water and providing nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen to its partnering plant.

This fungal network has been found to allow plants to aid one another in growth and flourishing. University of British Columbia graduate Suzanne Simard was the first to show that trees such as the Douglas fir and Paper birch were capable of transferring carbon to smaller trees that may not be receiving enough sunlight, allowing seedlings to grow in the shade of other trees. Simard believes that many of the world’s seedlings would not be able to survive if it weren’t for the lifeline this network provides ... ing-fungi/

-Ol' Ibex J. Torn-crow
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