When you think about, plants are from outer space. So are we, I guess, but let’s just focus on plants for a minute. Looking at them from this perspective really explains a lot. From their creeping tendrils to their overwhelming green-ness, plants bear an uncanny resemblance to the ‘little green men’ of our intergalactic imaginings.
Seriously, think about it. Their way of life is completely different to ours, and yet identifiable to us as a way of life. We have a sense of ancient kinship with plants, and yet there’s a wide gulf between where we’ve each ended up. Take your garden variety bay tree. Potted plant specimens aren’t hard to come by; you can even buy them online. They’re low maintenance, and we can use their leaves as a culinary herb, and they have a generally friendly quality about them. And yet, they’re largely inscrutable to we humans.
If a plant as down-to-earth as a bay tree has a strange vibe about it, then what of plants that are perceived as wilder, weirder and more dangerous? Think of carnivorous jungle plants, poisonous datura and belladonna, and those mystery species that dwell under the sea, of all places. They must be more along the lines of what I’m talking about, right? Well, not necessarily. A key part of my proposition is that all plants are equally alien.
Really, though, you have to see what I’m talking about to believe it. If you’re not doing it already, go and get started on some gardening post haste. You don’t have to go for anything out of the ordinary. In my view, the wackiness encompasses plants in general, from obscure Arctic mosses to the garden-friendly camellia tree. Buy online, go to a nursery or beg the elderly lady down your street for cuttings – it doesn’t matter. Just get some plant babies in your life and find out for yourself how strange they are.
If you take the time to ask them and listen for the answers, they might even disclose the secrets of the galaxy. Stranger things have happened.