"The Incredible Journey of Plants"

Neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso has woven together a fascinating collection of vignettes about the migration of plants. The scientific expert lucidly explains that plants are far more aware of the environment around them than are animals. He explains how plants are social organisms, great communicators and how, although they are apparently fixed organisms, plants are on the move generation after generation, reaching distant lands and conquering inaccessible or inhospitable locations.

Using spores, seeds, and other means, plants migrate throughout the globe via wind, water, gravity and are carried by animals. This dispersal is inevitable and unstoppable. One major example of plants’ mobility and hardiness includes the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site: Thirty years after the explosion, the Zone of Alienation is now blooming “with a wide assortment of plants.” Similarly, the Hibakujumoku or “trees that have suffered an atomic explosion” are now thriving in Hiroshima nearly 75 years later.

Mancuso follows the journeys of several species which some refer to as invasive. “Why… do we insist on labeling as “invasive” all those plants that, with great success, have managed to occupy new territories,” asks the author. “On a closer look, the invasive plants of today are the native flora of the future, just as the invasive species of the past are a fundamental part of our ecosystem today.”

This slim but highly informative book presents a balance of plant history accounts with recent scientific research about the movement of plants. The author stresses the key to the future of planet Earth rests with humans understanding and valuing nature’s interconnectedness. “The Incredible Journey of Plants” is an authoritative, lively study of plant life accessible to young readers, as well as to adults.

Other Press is the publisher of this 158-page book, which is generously and charmingly illustrated with watercolors by Grisha Fisher.