Are Plants Conscious?


To become aware, you need light, and the best beings that can manifest light into matter are the plants. – Matias DeStefano 


If you own a plant, you’ve probably always wondered about its inner life and the depth of its awareness – I know I have! Indeed, most of us have probably heard of or have been a part of the “are plants conscious?” debate at one time or another. Most likely, we understand that they don’t speak, move horizontally, or seem to have unique personalities, and that is why we dismiss them as being alive but not truly conscious. 

From the research that I’ve done and my own intuitive sense, I can say that yes, plants are conscious!

Indeed, over the centuries, and in particular, the 20th century, numerous experiments have been performed by many researchers that confirm that plants are conscious – that they feel pain, have musical preferences, and share a strong bond with those who care for and love them.

In fact, I learned much about plant life years ago when I read what is today one of my favorite books – The Secret Life of Plants

In this book, the authors use vivid storytelling to paint the profound discovery of the nature of plants’ lives as discovered by multiple case studies. Although plants have been seen as “automata” through the human anthropological understanding of what makes for sentience, they indeed can “distinguish between sounds inaudible to the human ear and color wavelengths such as infrared and ultraviolet invisible to the human eye.”

Furthermore, as the Viennese biologist Raoul France points out, plants “are constantly observing and recording events and phenomena of which man – trapped in his anthropocentric view of the world, subjectively revealed to him through his five senses – knows nothing.” Most of the researchers into plant consciousness studies see these phenomena resting on the fact that plants have an energy field that is very similar to the human energy field, and these fields can interact with one another.

So, let’s find out more about the consciousness of plants by diving deeper into incredible studies that show that plants have emotion and other characteristics that prove that plants have consciousness and are aware of the world around them.


Are Plants Conscious?: 3 Plant Consciousness Experiments


3 Plant Consciousness Experiments
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The following are some of my favorite experiments that were documented in The Secret Life of Plants which will show you one of the dozens of experiments that confirmed the extent of plant awareness and consciousness.

The adventure started in 1966. Backster had been up all night in his school for polygraph examiners, where he teaches the art of lie detection to policemen and security agents from around the world. On impulse, he decided to attach the electrodes of one of his lie detectors to the leaf of this dracaena [dragon tree]…Backster’s dragon tree, to his amazement, was giving him a reaction very similar to that of a human being experiencing an emotional stimulus of short duration. Could the plant be displaying emotion? What happened to Backster in the next ten minutes would revolutionize his life.

The most effective way to trigger in a human being a reaction strong enough to make the galvanometer jump is to threaten his or her wellbeing….Backster [conceived a threat]: he would burn the actual leaf to which the electrodes were attached. The instant he got the picture of flame in his mind, and before he could move for a match, there was a dramatic change in the tracing pattern on the graph in the form of prolonged upward sweep of the recording pen. Backster had not moved, either toward the plant or toward the recording machine Could the plant have been reading his mind? When Backster left the room and returned with some matches, he found another sudden surge had registered on the chart, evidently caused by his determination to carry out the threat. Reluctantly he set about burning the leaf. This time there was an allowed peak of reaction on the graph. Later, as he went through the motions of pretending he would burn the leaf, there was no reaction whatsoever. The plant appeared to be able to differentiate between real and pretended intent. Backster felt like running into the street and shouting to the world “plants can think!” (pg. 5)


In Japan, a soft-spoken doctor of philosophy and successful electronics engineer from Kamakura, a charmingly gardened retreat not far from Yokohama harbor, has developed a similar lie detector into a device with the most fabulous results yet achieved in the plant kingdom. [Although he wasn’t too successful in communicating with his cactus plant, his wife], on the other hand, who loves plants and is renowned for her “green thumb,” soon got sensational results. As Mrs. Hashimoto assured the plant that she loved it, there was an instant response from the cactus. Transformed and amplified by Dr. Hashimoto’s electronic equipment, the sound produced by the plant was like the high-pitched hum of very-high-voltage wires heard from a distance, except that it was more like a song, the rhythm and tone being varied and pleasant.

At times even warm and almost jolly John Francis Dougherty, a young American from Marina del Pey, California, who witnessed one of these conversations, says it sounded as if Mrs. Hashimoto, speaking in modulated Japanese, was being answered by the plant in modulated “cactese.” Daugherty further reports that the Hashimotos became so intimate with their plant that they were soon able to teach it to count and add up to twenty. In answer to a query as to how much two and two make, the plant would respond with sounds which, when transcribed back into inked tracings, produced found distinct and conjoined peaks. (pg. 43)


Two students, following Mrs. [Dorothy] Retallack’s lead, ran an eight-week experiment on summer squashes, broadcasting music from two Denver radio stations into their chambers, one specializing in heavily accented rock, the other in classical music. The cucurbits were hardly indifferent to the two musical forms: those exposed to Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms, Shubert, and other eighteenth- and nineteenth-century European scores grew toward the transistor radio, one of them even twining itself lovingly around it. The other squashes grew away from the rock broadcasts and even tried to climb the slippery walls of their glass cage. (pg. 154)


And if you’re looking for more resources that will illuminate more insight into plant consciousness, here are a few great articles to explore:

Consciousness and Cognition in Plants

Can Plants Feel Pain and Do They Have Feelings?

The Intelligent Plant


The Consciousness of Plants and Herbal Healing 


If reading the experiments above showed you anything, it is that plants have unique characteristics that are an expression of universal energy (and its evolution) just like humans, animals, and all life. They possess the awareness that we don’t quite understand; and let’s face it – as humans, if we don’t understand something or it doesn’t experience life as we do, we dismiss its significance and capacity by default. 

Since plants have energy bodies that are less karmic (because of their simpler existence) than animals, they are more readily connected to the light side of life and the laws of nature. Through photosynthesis, they convert the sun’s vitality directly into energy, making them highly adaptable and sensitive to their environment. Ultimately, they live according to their evolutionary capacity and purpose and use universal intelligence to help maintain symbiosis in nature and promote the evolution of all life.

That is exactly why they have a strong capacity to heal the human and animal bodies! By helping bring in more vital energy within the animal tissues, they prompt the cells to regenerate and the body to self-heal. Energy is the major component of health, and it is the state of surplus energy in our bodies that dictates whether we develop chronic illness and how long we live. 

The plants’ consciousness, including the quality of the soil where they grow, the nature of their environment, and the nutrients they were able to receive, all influence the awareness and energy they transmute to humans who consume them.

Therefore, the quality of our food is very important in terms of our health, including choosing organic and knowing how the food is grown, harvested, and produced. Sadly, this is difficult to do in this day and age, making gardening and organic farming a wonderful option for personal care and self-sufficiency.

Herbs are medicinal plants that have specific healing qualities which, when in interaction with animal cells, can correct degenerated tissues by elevating their function to their original state. Herbs are known to have specific qualities that heal distinct ailments either through detoxifying, tonifying, strengthening, or building function. 


Plant Communication


While plants do not have a central nervous system or brain, they do have complex chemical and electrical signaling systems that allow them to respond to their environment and communicate with other plants.

Plants communicate with each other and with their environment through a variety of mechanisms, including chemical signals, electrical signals, and physical cues. Here are some examples of how plants communicate:

Chemical signals: Plants release chemicals into the air and soil that can signal to other plants and organisms. For example, when a plant is attacked by an insect, it can release chemicals that attract predators of the insect, which can help protect the plant.

Electrical signals: Plants are able to generate and detect electrical signals that can help them respond to their environment. For example, when a plant is touched or damaged, it can produce electrical signals that trigger a response in other parts of the plant.

Physical cues: Plants can also respond to physical cues such as light, gravity, and touch. For example, plants can grow towards sources of light and can sense when they are being touched or moved.

While these mechanisms of communication are not necessarily indicative of intelligence, they do suggest that plants are capable of complex behaviors and responses to their environment. However, more research is needed to fully understand the nature of plant communication and behavior.


Plant Medicine: The Case of Psychedelic Plants


Plant Medicine The Case of Psychedelic Plants
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The best example of plant awareness can be seen in the case of psychedelic plants. Given the fact that they’ve been able to help so many individuals deal with their physical, emotional, and spiritual crises, one has to wonder about their true evolutionary role in the expansion of human consciousness. 

Many individuals who have studied the use of psychedelics over millennia even claim that the use of magic mushrooms helped humanity develop spiritual insight and key awareness to understand reality and our place within it so much more profoundly be able to create religions that mirrored this newfound understanding of our human journey on this material plane.

A very well-known book written in 1970, The Sacred Mushroom and The Cross, explores this connection between magic mushroom consumption and the evolution of Christian philosophy and religion. The author, John Allegro, argues that the fertility cults of ancient Sumer, which utilized magic mushrooms, were the originators of our spiritual and religious progress by giving us insights that were too advanced for our logical minds to conceive on their own and which helped us to evolve collectively. 

Terrance McKenna, a spiritual philosopher of the 1960s, also believed that hallucinogens were key to bridging our material existence with our spiritual truth. And of course, Shamans from all traditions and cultures always used plant medicine, including Ayahuasca and Peyote, to help individuals heal from hard-to-treat ailments that usually had spiritual causation.

The Shaman was seen as the bridge to realities whose duty was to communicate with both natural and spiritual worlds for the sake of maintaining harmony and the well-being of the whole ecosystem. 


Final Thoughts


Given that all life is infused with energy and universal intelligence, there is no doubt that plants are conscious and express their awareness in a manner most constructive to their nature and purpose of existence. I believe that their purpose, like that of the Shamans, is to bring harmony to the ecosystem to support all life (chemical, and thus, energetic) and to help us heal and evolve through their sacrifice as food and medicine. 

By embodying the purest source of energy, when we consume them as food, plant consciousness fuses with our own to help us become more physically, emotionally, and spiritually aligned with the laws of nature. They live on inside of us, helping the whole ecosystem evolve through energy osmosis that gives rise to greater awareness and evolution of species. Indeed, high energy levels help the body attune to higher frequencies of existence, making plants and the plant-based diet the best diet on the planet for health and expansion of personal awareness.

Plans are sentient beings, and whenever I harvest them for food or consume a meal, I thank the plants (and bless my meal) and reassure them that they will live on through me. Isn’t it wonderful to feel such a connection to one’s food source? Once we all get to that point, I am certain that the world will heal from its traumas of disconnection from all life and will experience much less suffering on the collective level. 

And if you’re curious to know more about the healing power of herbs, I wrote this in-depth article that delves into the use of herbs throughout history and cultures and which shows you why herbs have been used as true human medicine throughout time. I hope you enjoy it!

About the Author

Anesa is the founder of and the chief integrative health practitioner at Red Grape Wisdom, with a mission to teach the public the truth about health and the principles of wellness that trace their roots back to our human origins and our connection to the cosmic and natural law. 

Anesa is the author of How to Detox Your Body Naturally and Safely, and her expertise lies in natural health diagnostics, holistic detoxification, and healing support. She uses many unique modalities to help others heal naturally and thrive such as naturopathy, medical astrology, iridology, and Eastern traditional herbal medicine.