Inspired By Plants

Plants rule the Earth. They account for 80% of the total biomass on this planet, and we rely on them to survive in every way from food, to clothes, to building materials, to oxygen. A world without plants- well we wouldn’t exist without one. More than what they can do for us physically, we can learn from their unique behavior how to handle crises and adapt in the most extreme situations.

A few of the most inspirational plants:

  1. The Sensitive Plant: Technically titled Mimosa pudica, this plant physically responds to touch- immediately drawing in its leaves. While plants must move (they grow bigger over time) it’s usually at a rate too slow for people to see. This plant has made a claim to fame through its sensitivity and shyness. So if you are someone who is soft spoken, introverted, or intimidated, think of the sensitive plant. If there are plants out there who have social anxiety, it’s okay if you do too.
Sensitive Plant: Britannica Encyclopedia

2. The Welwitschia: Native to Namib Desert in Namibia, is so important to the region it appears on the nation’s coat of arms. The welwitschia is a marvelous example to never give up in the face of adversity. This plant has two base leaves it keeps its entire life, and a tap root that runs deep into the desert ground to collect water. While it looks like nothing more than a squashed pile of leaves left to dry up in the sun, this plant can thrive for over 1000 years! The welwitschia teaches us to use our resource wisely. It is an inspiration to grow, even when people think you don’t have any reason to, or you appear too far gone already. You can always grow if you are willing utilize what you have. It doesn’t matter if your progress doesn’t look like progress to anyone one else. It doesn’t matter if your progress is slow and looks like a pile of dead leaves on the ground. A pile of leaves is more than a seed. And a pile of leaves that lasts for 1000 years is something extraordinary.

Wilwitschia: Info Namibia

3. Sierra Redwoods: These massive trees once grew across the Northern Hemisphere, now only reside in an the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range out in California. The enormous redwoods grow so large because their lifespan is over 3000 years and they can grow relatively quickly under ideal conditions. To grow quickly they need a ton of water, which they obtain from the winter snow once it melts, and need loose, breathable soil for this process to occur. The redwoods teach us that the most wondrous, magnificent, beautiful, gigantic accomplishments in life are still delicate. They take a lot of work and special circumstances to thrive in the way they do. They also teach us that it’s okay to be fragile, even if you look big and tough. We all need our own kind of care and there is nothing wrong with that.

Massive Redwoods: Save The Redwoods

4. The Night Blooming Cereus: This member of the cactus family blooms only once a year and only at night. The moment day begins to break the following morning, the giant white petals begin to wilt and fall off. These cacti wait an entire year until the right time to burst and bloom. It takes a ton of energy from a plant to produce a flower. This “Queen of the Night” waits until the optimal time to bloom. The cooler temperatures prevent the plant from drying out while it produces its fragrant blossom, and the powerful smell attracts local pollinators to quickly get to work to produce the next generation of plants. When they aren’t in bloom, these cacti look lifeless and small, however most of their mass lies underground- they can weigh up to 150 pounds once their heavy root system factors in. The night blooming cereus teaches us that we do not always need to showcase our progress and accomplishments to the world. Work on our roots. Develop a strong system of support to not just survive, but thrive in desert conditions. No one needs to see or know. You are not on anyone’s timeline expect your own. People flock the deserts of Arizona to try and snap a picture of this blossom, but they have to wait until the flower is ready. Work with consistency and patience. Then when you are ready, bloom with all you’ve got.

Night Blooming Cereus: Desert USA

Plants teach us a lot about survival. They adapt to insanely difficult terrain, and thrive in regions no other life could manage. They fuel our way of life. They can’t move or leave a difficult situation. They must bloom where they are planted. You can too. You can create beautiful, wonderful, fantastical things, right where you’re at.

Make the Most of This Winter: Grow, Even If No One Watches

Winter is coming, and as the cold seeps in the leaves will finish falling, the plants will go to sleep, and the sky will turn grey for the next few months. The colder temperatures will mean less days outside and the winter time blues will dampen the golden freedom of fall afternoons. Winter offers its own opportunities however, with time to rest, reflect, and learn. Spend your time inside to grow. Read a book, take an online course, or put extra effort into your self-care.

To help combat those dark and frigid days, I recommend reading Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence, by Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola. The book is the perfect winter time read to bring you back to the warmth of summer days. It offers a unique and inspirational look into the world of plants that is for more fascinating than your 10th grade biology class.

The general focus of the work centers on the notion that most people tend to ignore plants, viewing them as unintelligent and passive beings. People overlook how vital plants are to the survival of all other living creatures. Perhaps because they are immobile, or because they are ever-present, they are seemingly silent, or that they are easily manipulated by humans. But imagine a world without plants. To quote the authors, “They… are the link connecting the activities of the whole organic world (that is, of everything we call life) with our solar system’s energy center.” Without plants we wouldn’t have food, clothes, breathable air, energy supplies- life would be unsustainable.

This notion does not just apply to plants. If people do not notice all that you do, it does not mean that you are not important. The things you are doing, the projects you are working on, the time you are investing in yourself and in others is valuable. Your work is beautiful. What you create and contribute to the world is worth creating, even if no one is paying attention. Just because people tend to pass you by does not mean you are any less vital to the larger ecosystem of the world, and if you left, people would definitely notice. Just like the plants.

The book goes into detail about the complexities of plant intelligence, explaining how they use their senses to engage with their environment (yes they have all 5 senses we do, plus 15 more!). It examines the historical reasons plants have been glossed over in philosophical, religious, and scientific texts. It even poses its own philosophical questions such as, are plants altruistic? Check out the book for the entire explanation, but in short I was inspired that this question could even be asked. This suggests kindness is an innate characteristic so fundamental to living things that even plants exhibit signs of a moral compass. Imagine being a plant: you can’t move, you have to fight all other plants around you for resources, avoid being eaten entirely by animals, protect yourself from the elements, it can’t be easy, and yet, you have a sense to help out other plants around you in need. This level of thoughtfulness existing within in plants means kindness must be a core trait within people too. Be kind to others. The world might have made some hearts hard, but they can be softened. Even if it goes unnoticed, even if people do not immediately pay attention, your efforts to be gentle will help reshape the world.

Another fun fact presented in the 2nd chapter is the positive benefits plants have on the human mind. Cited are studies showing that the presence of plants in classrooms improve student concentration, and neighborhoods with greener spaces tend to have fewer car accidents and suicides. The impact of plants on mental health is remarkable. Maybe that has something to do with the recent houseplant comeback. Another way to help battle seasonal depression is to bring the outdoors in. When you pick up this book, snag a few house plants to brighten up your room too. Your plant will love you just as much you will love the life it brings you this cold season. If you don’t know what kind of plant to get or tend to kill anything green you touch start with one of these beginner options and work your way to building up a collection.

Overall, Brilliant Green, offers a lot of interesting and detailed information about how plants work. In it’s own way though it is a work of inspiration, with an underlying message that the moments overlooked are often the most important and beautiful in life. Don’t waste your winter this year. Take advantage of the time you have to try something you wouldn’t normally. Don’t let people overlook you either, and if they do, it does not mean you are any less wondrous. Keep on putting in the work on your dreams, keep focusing, keep creating, keep doing your very best. Your actions today have the power to impact the hearts and minds of those in the environment around you- just like a plant. Keep growing towards the sun, and when the spring comes you will bloom the most vibrant flowers that will capture the eye of everyone who passes by. Plants are stationary beings, but without them, the world would crumble. You have been planted in your own unique situation, and your soil may not be rich, your water supply may be weak, but even cacti in the hottest deserts blossom the loveliest flowers in their own time. You are creating amazing work exactly where you are planted, and one day the seeds of your efforts will spread across the world. You can do anything exactly where you’re at.