We eat, sleep and breathe plants, so why are we so blind to them?

Dr Jonathan Mitchley's online alter ego - Dr M

Dr Jonathan Mitchley’s online alter ego – Dr M

There’s none so blind as those who will not see, and plants suffer much more than their fair share from this blindness!

The April 2015 Cafe Scientifique saw Dr Jonathan Mitchley, Professor of Field Botany from The University of Reading (better known as Dr M, his online cartoon alter ego that likes to refer to himself in the third person) tackle the issue of “plant blindness” amongst the human species, that is the tendency for people to see ‘nothing’ when they look at plants.

In the western world, if we notice plants at all, it is to emphasise the negatives, the pernicious weeds, the alien invasives and the poisonous plants, in fact these days we hardly dare let our children out of the house for fear they will be overwhelmed by triffids or poisoned to death by evil-looking plant monsters!

But plants are the basis of all life on earth and we ignore them at our peril. And, as Dr M emphasised, plants are intrinsically beautiful and fascinating in their own right and what we need to do is relearn the ancient art of looking and seeing!

Dr M’s session introduced the concept of plant blindness and illustrated the importance, value and beauty of plants through twelve themes depicted in this collage.

Image credit: John Innes Centre: Plants and Us

Image credit: John Innes Centre: Plants and Us

He concluded with some words on how each of us can contribute to the curing of global plant blindness and took questions and comments from the floor and plant-based beverages from the bar!

You can check out his website (modestly described as ‘the best in the world’) here


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