Scientific evidence shows that plants are capable of intelligent behavior, particularly communication with each other via chemical signaling, root systems, and more. But an emerging controversial idea among some scientists is that plants are capable of telepathic communication with humans, and that practicing communication with plants could prepare us for future interactions with extra terrestrial intelligence.
Plant pathologist and agriculturalist Saskia von Diest says she has personally spoken with plant life on more than one occasion and that the ability to talk to plants, animals, and all entities of Earth is innate within us all. She calls this ability ecofluency.
“Interspecies communication is not something that's limited to only a few people,” von Diest says. “I would go so far as to say that [every person] actually has the ability, that blueprint in their DNA, and it's just a matter of having it developed or trained. And that's something that one can learn.”
To tap into ecofluency, says von Diest, you need to see yourself as a part of nature, not someone distanced from it or unable to connect with it. While taking a walk with the family poodle, you can contemplate that the trees around you may be sentient. This shift in perspective, von Diest says, can eventually lead to telepathic plant communication. And perhaps even, an ability to communicate with alien life forms.
Von Diest says she believes that all things possess some form of consciousness, even rocks, because she has used ecofluency to communicate with so many different types of beings. By that logic, even the stardust sprinkled across Antarctica’s snow could be intelligent alien life capable of communicating with us.
“I would encourage anyone interested in ecofluency to start practicing as soon as possible with creatures on Earth ... before the question of alien contact becomes a more urgent one,” says von Diest. “If the aliens are invisible and/or malevolent … then communication can become a matter of life or death… Put in another way, one could see it as a useful skill to have, and it makes more sense to start developing it before needing it in an emergency.”
Von Diest isn’t the only PhD who talks with plants, either. Evolutionary ecologist Monica Gagliano regularly chats with trees. In her book Thus Spoke the Plant, Gagliano speaks with a cannonball tree (Couroupita guianensis), native to tropical forests of South and Central America, and it gives her explicit instructions on how to conduct an experiment that ends up shaking the foundations of botany. When she completes the study exactly as she’s told to by the cannonball tree, the results show the first convincing scientific evidence that plants are capable of Pavlovian learning--meaning they can associate a stimulus with a reward, much like physiologist Ivan Pavolv showed that dogs associate food with the ringing of a bell.
“Our results show that associative learning is an essential component of plant behaviour,” writes Gagliano and the other study authors, who published their findings in the journal Scientific Reports in 2016. “We conclude that associative learning represents a universal adaptive mechanism shared by both animals and plants.”
Of course, more studies will need to be done to prove that this is true, but it's a fascinating result, nonetheless.
While he hasn’t shared stories of any telepathic plant encounters of his own, well-known plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso asserts that researching plant intelligence and consciousness could better prepare us for alien contact should the day ever come.
“Precisely because they’re physically and genetically different from but fundamentally so close to us, plant organisms could be an important model for the study of intelligence,” writes plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso in his book Brilliant Green. “And could help us rethink our approaches and tools in searching for alien intelligence.”