18th of May 2017 is Fascination of Plants Day, an event which was launched under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO) to encourage people around the world to celebrate the importance of plant science. As readers of Journal of Ecology, you are probably fascinated by plants (as much as me), so let’s celebrate them together. I believe that there is no best way to pay tribute to plants than talking about how fascinating they are for us and how they influence our life. As such, a few of our Associate Editors and I would like to share with you our love for plants. And you readers, please celebrate with us too by sharing your love, fascination and experience of plants using the comment section of this blog post (Leave a Reply, below).
Ignasi Bartomeus. I love plants because they have flowers that provide special food for bees, flies, butterflies, beetles, and even birds. Their fruits are eaten by lemurs, tucans, and elephants. They also provide shelter to ants, lizards, squirrels and other myriad animals. And all this works based on an economy of obtaining mutual benefits. Plants are not only the motor of most ecosystems, but they do all this powered by the sun.
Honor Prentice. I’ve always been keen on natural history and being in the field. Like many of my colleagues, I started off by looking at birds. I think that birdwatching preadapts one for a life as a biologist because it teaches you how to observe carefully. Once started, I couldn’t stop observing. But I moved from birds to plants – which sit still to be sampled. Every time I’m in the field, I see new details that generate new questions. I want to know how it all fits together. How and why? It’s a kind of “life, the universe and everything” thing.
Hans Cornelissen. I am fascinated by plants because they exhibit such an incredible diversity of shape, size, colour and function. Think of something truly amazing you would like plants to be able to do but never imagined possible… and they turn out to have evolved it already: tumbling through the desert to disperse their seeds, producing roots growing into the snow against gravity, stealing nutrients from trees via fungi, strangling host trees to become rainforest trees themselves, producing vicious spiny and poisonous leaves to defend themselves against giant browsing dinosaurs… The encyclopedia of the world’s flora (almost) beats the wildest of dreams.
Pierre Mariotte. I love plants because they produce flowers that bring colors into the world. Flowers convey emotions and feelings and follow us all along our life – offered as a gesture of love, decorating our wedding table and here again at our funeral. Flowers have always been important for me because they are associated with precious memories. For example, they remind me of my childhood and my grandmother with who I was often biking to the nearby pastures to collect flowers (daisy, red poppy, cornflower, etc) and create the best bouquets ever. Plants are amazing by many ways but it is the diversity of colors and shapes that always fascinated me. They are truly inspiring but also mysterious and understanding their secrets is what motivated me to become an ecologist.
Stephen Bonser. I am fascinated by plants because of the range of solutions they have evolved for living a dangerous world. Plants cannot simply move when faced with an adversary or adversity. Rather, they must deal with stresses, parasites, predators, and competitors in complex and subtle ways. The evolution of solutions to these ecological problems have added tremendous variation to life on earth.