Adina Ionescu Muscel - Art photography and mixed media
The sessile plant
The rotting logs, field mushrooms, crumbling leaves, ancient sands and greening grass are not discreet things; they are happenings taking shape through deep time and the ephemera of now and now and now.
Green beings are to be understood as practitioners of a kind of alchemical cosmos mattering; we think that plants can’t move, but they reach across the cosmos, dawning the energy of the sun into their tissue so that they can work the terrestrial magic.
Pulling matter out of the air, plants could be understood as the world-making conjurers; they teach us the most nuanced lessons about matter and mattering.
They know how to compose livable, breathable and nourishing worlds: as they exhale, they compose the atmosphere, as they decompose, they matter the compost and feed the soil, holding the earth down and the sky up, they sing in nearly ultrasonic frequencies as they transpire moving massive volumes of water from the depths of the earth up to the atmosphere; they cleanse the waters and seed the clouds.
They breathe us into being.
Some plants, such as mimosa or Venus fly traps, have very specific, seemingly responsive movements that are hard for animal senses to ignore. But most plant behaviour, which may even betray an intelligence that we are only just starting to investigate, goes totally unnoticed. What Darwin really did was see plants in a new way: to look from their perspective and observe how their movement and behaviour benefitted them. It was a project which he never quite put down.
“We think the sagebrush are basically eavesdropping on one another,” Karban said. He found that the more closely related the plants the more likely they are to respond to the chemical signal, suggesting that plants may display a form of kin recognition.
The Sessile Plant
Unable to run away, plants deploy a complex molecular vocabulary to signal distress, deter or poison enemies, and recruit animals to perform various services for them. A recent study in Science found that the caffeine produced by many plants may function not only as a defense chemical, as had previously been thought, but in some cases as a psychoactive drug in their nectar. The caffeine encourages bees to remember a particular plant and return to it, making them more faithful and effective pollinators.