Sacred Trees


In the current India issue of Selvedge, photographer Deidi Von Schaewen embarks on a project that investigates the relationship between trees and humans as one of respect and spirituality. Von Schaewen believes that the sentience of trees gives them a higher power that is all too overlooked by European cultures. Plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso’s new book, Brilliant Green: the Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence, similarly questions the nature of man’s relationship with the natural world, or rather, the disparity between our attitude to animals and plants. Whilst the animal kingdom is able to hold us emotionally enthral, the human psyche can be more dispassionate towards plant life. t1 This disconnect, Mancuso argues, stems from the changes in nature from human and animal behavioral patterns, and those of plants. Whilst we all share the functions and drives: to breathe, and reproduce, and sustain life, the timescale on which we act separates us – as plants slowly respond to stimuli, a leaf unfurling over the course of a few days or more, we are quick to lose interest. He believes this oversight is a grave one, focusing around the sentience of plants that mankind may have in the past overlooked. Their senses – believed to be around 20 distinguishable senses – outnumber humans – a now-meagre 5 – and the ability to communicate, and respond to stimuli with logic. t3 This loss of consideration for the plants and the natural world is indicative of the fast-paced, technology-and-innovation centric world, which relies on the destruction of natural resources to propel itself forward. Care, and the acceptance of the immovable value that trees and plants have on the existence of man, would be a welcome addition to our daily lives.

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