Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Secret Language of Plants

It's been found that plants are able to communicate amongst themselves in a complex but poorly understood way.
If one plant in the network is being attacked by insects, it communicates with the others, who then fortify themselves against the attack.

There are vines of spiny chayote here that grow rapidly and in an almost aggressive manner. They quickly form intertwined networks, covering walls and rooftops in a green tangle as their ugly, spine-covered fruit develops. The gourds dangle like spiny green reptilian huevos. (A few weeks ago, we were given some boiled chayotes. Ugh. They were bitterly metallic in taste and didn't even smell good.)

But then, when millions of little grasshoppers come and start humping in an orgiastic frenzy, munching on the leaves to sustain their activity, the chayote vines are quickly reduced to ragged remnants. There goes the network.

If you were to walk with me in the morning along the Las Cuevas road, the valley enveloped in mist, plants of innumerable varieties sprouting from every crevice in the stone walls, lines of eucalyptus trees forming a fog-shrouded palisade against a backdrop of lushly mature maíz, you would wonder at what the plants were saying to each other. What piropos are passing between the macho tassels of corn and the female silk? There is an herbal oloroso, an odor of fecundity there.

In my more fertile fantasies, I imagine amantes slipping out of their casas in the dark of the half-moon, furtively meeting in the furrows to make
pollen-dusted love amidst the corn rows.

The plants are whispering chismes as the tassels shake over the silk.

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