This study on flower resilience is the most beautiful thing I’ve read during the pandemic

This study on flower resilience is the most beautiful thing I’ve read during the pandemic

What plants can teach us about surviving a pandemic.

Before all the lockdowns, I bought some fresh basil from Trader Joe’s, trimmed off all but the top leaves, clipped the stem at its midpoint, and put the cut end in a little glass vase.

When the basil pushed out fresh baby roots at the end of March, I was transitioning in my isolation from losing it in a bad way — with panic mimicking fever symptoms — to losing it in a good way — falling hard into daydreams and making much-too-elaborate dinners for one.

The little roots were one thing nudging my mental state in the right direction. In them, I perceived something of a message: a song simple and beautiful, banal and profound.

They sang: Life yearns for more.

This clipping, which could have just withered after a rough journey through the Trader Joe’s supply chain, didn’t die. It was trying to survive, and I felt good about it.

These hopeful baby roots were on my mind when I saw a new study, published in the journal New Phytologist, about the beautiful, ordinary, and profound things flowers do after suffering an injury. That is: When many flower species get knocked down, they right themselves. The individual flowers on the stalk will rotate back, as best they can, into a position ideal for pollination.

Like me watching my little roots growing at home, the scientists here made a small — one might say, obvious — observation. The difference, though, is that this paper is perhaps the first time this has been documented in the scientific literature, the result of a decade of work.

Read original.

 


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