Plants, Psychic Aspects of

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Plants, Psychic Aspects of

Plant life has always been of interest to mankind. Plants have provided food, medicine, and hallucinogenic substances. However, beginning in the 1970s, there was more, public interest in the behavior and psychic aspects of plant life. Evidence was presented suggesting plants may diagnose disease, react to music and human emotions, and act as lie detectors.

Legends told of the power of sound to influence plants. In Hindu mythology, the flute music of Shri Krishna made flowers bloom. Reportedly the musician Tansen, during the era of Moghul Emperor Akbar could cause the flowers to blossom by singing a particular musical raga or mode. Tamil literature described how sugarcane grew in response to the musical sounds of beetles, wasps, and bees.

Scientific interest in the sensitivities of plants dates from the experiments of Charles Darwin, who attempted to stimulate Mimosa pudica by playing a bassoon in close proximity, hoping to bring about movements of the pinnae. There was no measurable response and twenty years later in 1877 the German plant physiologist Wilhelm Pfeffer reported in his book Physiology of Plants (translated into English 1900) another unsuccessful experiment he hoped would stimulate the stamens of Cynararae by sound.

In 1903, the Indian scientist, Jagadis Chunder Bose, re-ported in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Britain, his results from experiments with plants. He concluded "all characteristics of the responses exhibited by the animal tissues, were also found in those of the plant." Bose devised an apparatus to demonstrate plant reactions, many of which resembled nervous responses in animal or human life. He also measured the electrical forces released in the "death-spasms" of vegetables. The American scientist George Crile also conducted experiments to measure the vital response of plant life.

Following Bose, T. C. N. Singh at Annamalai University, India, continued experiments on plants from 1950 and reported plants respond measurably to music, dance, and prayer. After publication of his papers, similar experiments were also conducted in Canada and the United States.

From 1966 onward, Cleve Backster, an American poly-graph specialist, conducted experiments in plant extrasensory perception, using polygraph techniques. His experiments, as reported in the International Journal of Parapsychology, (vol. 10, 1968), supported the thesis that plants were sensitive to human thoughts. Backster's conclusions have been independently confirmed by other experimenters, including research chemist Marcel Vogel, who claimed plants and human beings shared a common energy field and may affect each other in a manner he could record with instruments. Vogel recorded the ability of Debbie Sapp, who claimed to "enter the consciousness of a plant."

Other experimenters have shown plants may be used to trigger electric relays and open doors, stimulated by emotional suggestions from human operators. Many owners of garden plots and window boxes take it for granted their plant life may be favorably affected by human feelings and talk regularly to their plants.


Bolton, Brett L. The Secret Powers of Plants. New York: Berkley, 1974. Reprint, London: Abacus, 1974.

Bose, J. C. Plant Autographs and Their Revelations. London: Longmans Green, 1927.

Crile, George. The Phenomena of Life: A Radio-Electric Interpretation. London, 1936.

Loehr, Franklin. The Power of Prayer on Plants. New York: New American Library, 1969.

Tompkins, Peter, and Christopher Bird. The Secret Life of Plants. New York: Harper & Row, 1973. Reprint, New York: Avon, 1974.

Whitman, John. The Psychic Power of Plants. New York: New American Library, 1974. Reprint, London: W. H. Allen, 1974.