Print this page

Observations placeholder

Darwin, Charles - The Power of Movement in Plants



Type of spiritual experience


A number of very eminent biologists have studied the functions of plants and tried to separate the concept of function and form.  What may not be realised is that along with the more obvious scientists such as Lyall Watson, Charles Darwin also did some major studies into plant function.

Much of what he achieved and noticed has been lost in the rather one sided descriptions given these days by scientists who have latched onto evolution as a form based phenomena.  But Darwin did not exclude the existence of function, nor for that matter did he exclude the concept of spirit in its 'software' like form.    

He asked the questions that most scientists of his standing ask - ‘how do they know the temperature’ and ‘how do they move their leaves’.  Plants have no brain, no nervous system, so how do they ‘know’.  How do they know it is night?  How do they know it may be cold?

 So the truly great scientists like Darwin not only scrupulously monitored the behaviour of plants and animals but they also asked the simple question, how?    Birds migrate in order to find food. We know why, but we don’t know how.  And the answer is they have functions - software.  Darwin actually documented this, but few realise that his explanations are software descriptions not hardware descriptions.

As a computer scientist and a systems analyst, my first question would have been “Yes but how?   Where are the instructions, where are the functions?"  But no one these days seems to ask these questions, even though Darwin did. 

A description of the experience

Lyall Watson – The Dreams of Dragons

 Plants it seems are much more like animals than the textbooks would have us believe.  They have no nervous system, but they do make use of electricity to transmit signals and they behave at times almost as if they were acutely sensitive.

 Charles Darwin was one of the first to consider the matter in detail.  He noticed that garden plants changed the position of their leaves at night, so lupins, for example, hung miserably down, while radish leaves moved into the vertical position soon after dark.

 He suggested in his book The Power of Movement in Plants, that this change from the normal horizontal position prevented dew and frost from settling on the leaves and saved them from the danger of nocturnal chilling.  His ideas fell into disfavour when it was pointed out that the same ‘sleep movements’ take place in plants growing in areas where frosts do not occur. 

 But in 1982, a botanist at the Scripps Institution in California proved that horizontal leaves are always cooler at night than vertical ones and that even this small difference in temperature inhibits growth in the horizontal ones.  He showed that bean seedlings grow far better on a good’s night’s sleep

The source of the experience

Darwin, Charles

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image