What A Plant Knows

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

What A Plant Knows

Can we say that plants have senses? How do plants sense their environment and how do scientists study plant senses?

These are questions I am exploring for the next few weeks in a free, online class entitled What a Plant Knows (and other things you didn’t know about plants). The class is taught by Tel Aviv University Professor Daniel Chamovitz, who wrote a book by the same title.

The class began last week and I am enjoying it so much I wanted to mention it here. It is not too late to start the course, offered through Coursera, a company that offers massive open online courses (MOOCs).

Plant Swap

We finally had much-needed rain this past week and even now there is a fine mist. It is cool 68.7 °F and gray, the opposite of last weekend when we had clear blue sunny skies and temperatures in the high 80s. Last Sunday I helped with a neighborhood plant swap. It was heartening to see the turnout of people (including some children) interested in sharing plants with each other.

I shared Monarda, Hedychium coronarium, and Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ and in return, I could not resist some reblooming Irises of unknown color and a white peony, Paeonia Festiva Maxima. Today I found several rebloomers flowering in the garden.

Reblooming Iris germanica (Bearded iris)  (bearded German Iris)

Reblooming Iris germanica (Bearded iris) (bearded German Iris)

Miscellany

The Swamp Sunflower continues to tower over the back border. Today it was covered with bees. On Thursday during a cold, heavy rain I spied a hummingbird stopping in to visit along the top of this plant. The hummingbirds are gone now and no more Monarchs ever showed up, just that one.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

The Sedum gradually is turning brown now. The last time I photographed it a big grasshopper was sitting on it. No way to know if this is the same one but it looks completely cushioned by the tiny flowers.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) and Differential grasshopper, Melanoplus differentialis

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) and Differential grasshopper, Melanoplus differentialis

16 thoughts on “What A Plant Knows

  1. Cathy

    A white peony sounds nice. I have a lovely big white one with streaks of pink in it, and it smells wonderful. I just had a look at that book and it sounds fascinating… I may order that soon. Thanks for the tip, and enjoy the course!

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Your peony sounds similar to this one–pink at the center. Hope it will also smell good. My husband is reading the book. I think you’ll like it. So far the videos have been good.

      Reply
  2. bittster

    Your sunflower looks better than ever!
    A plant swap sounds nice, I don’t think my neighborhood has enough interest to support one… unless I opened up the cooler and kept a couple six packs ready….. hmmmm, that might be an idea.

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Thanks! The sunflower has been going for many weeks now. I have to cut it back soon though because I don’t want it to spread seeds. You should try the plant swap–sounds like you have a good formula for getting neighbors involved! I was surprised at how many people came and it was fun seeing all the kids picking out plants too.

      Reply
  3. Annette

    Your class sounds interesting although I doubt one will ever find the answers to these questions. I had Penstemon d. Huskers Red one year and thought it very beautiful. I’m impressed with your Helianthus angustifolius – such a beauty. Let me find a swamp quickly! 😉 Maybe near the pond…

    Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      The professor does a good job of discussing the science of plants. Just 8 weeks long so it’s manageable. That sunflower has done unusually well this year. It’s not really in a wet spot in my garden but from the name I guess it can tolerate the water pretty well.

      Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Iris in October is sort of a novelty I think. If the ones I brought home from the plant swap do well, maybe this white one will have some company next fall. Susie

      Reply
    1. pbmgarden Post author

      Hi Donna, glad to know you have the Monarchs there. The class is pretty interesting–I’m just watching the videos, not taking the tests, etc. I recommend it for when you’ve some free time.

      Reply

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