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Noon Edition

Michael Pollan

The Botany of Desire

Michael Pollan wrote an intriguing book called The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s-Eye View of the World published in 2001 by Random House. In his book, Pollan expresses his view that plants are willing partners with humans throughout the course of ten thousand years of co-evolution.

While humans have artificially changed many species of plants, Pollan contends that plants have also been involved in a process of changing humans. Our human desires connect us to plants, and according to Pollan, “form a part of our natural history.”

Plants, unlike humans are not mobile, and so cannot escape their predators or extend their influence geographically, without help. However, plants have evolved ways of attracting others to carry their genes around for them. The bees transport pollen, animals carry burrs, birds carry seeds and so on.

On page 71 of his book, Pollan describes his own garden in high summer, where individual flowers in their turn, occupy a brief time center stage to seduce bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, hummingbirds and other potential pollinators. Natural selection, he says, has resulted in flowers that can communicate with other species.

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