The Secret Life of Plants

The Secret Life of Plants

1979, Nature  -   74 Comments
Ratings: 7.65/10 from 94 users.

The Secret Life of PlantsIt means even on the lower levels of life, there is a profound consciousness or awareness that bonds all things together. Published in 1973, The Secret Life of Plants was written by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. It is described as "A fascinating account of the physical, emotional, and spiritual relations between plants and man." Essentially, the subject of the book is the idea that plants may be sentient, despite their lack of a nervous system and a brain. This sentience is observed primarily through changes in the plant's conductivity, as through a polygraph, as pioneered by Cleve Backster. The book also contains a summary of Goethe's theory of plant metamorphosis.

That said, this book is about much more than just plants; it delves quite deeply into such topics as the aura, psychophysics, orgone, radionics, kirlian photography, magnetism/magnetotropism, bioelectrics, dowsing, and the history of science. It was the basis for the 1979 documentary of the same name, with a soundtrack especially recorded by Stevie Wonder.

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74 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Gorav

    Wow...a friend suggested this one...its really boils down to actually - so many more thoughts :)

    This surely states that every matter around us is INCLUSIVE n not reclusive as humanity behaves in a consumption based society.

    That everything around us should be respected. Even our Bikes :)

    This is the r-evolution which when comes, the natural world and the consumption world will harmonize. But this can only be when we as small pockets foremost take care of our food, waste, water, grid and education worries.

  2. Roger Peterson

    Inside Ivy is the name of an article that describes my personal experience with a household Ivy plant I loved and talked to daily. After months of energy exchange while propping myself up with my elbows resting on the stairwell shelf holding the plant pot, my consciousness suddenly flowed down into the plant. The experience that followed is amazing! Other accounts of of inter-species communication exist on the Internet as well.

  3. Gabriel Suarez

    Everyone has heard of the story of the fish who crawled out of the ocean but most haven't heard of the story of the plants that came before it.

  4. Wamita Rellora

    There's this movie 'The Happening'... Watching this documentary reminded me of that. I will definitely read the book!

  5. stargate123

    Do you believe trees and plants feel fear when we start to trim them?

    1. lucie

      I think it is foolish to think that plants feel specific emotions that we caracterize as fear, because we, humans, feel fear. If a plant does not have the same conception of life and death as us (if it even has such a conception) then it would not feel the same emotion as us.

  6. Coloradogardenlady

    I read this book over 25 years ago and was amazed at what the implications were. I had searched for this documentary for a few years and am amazed at some of the footage that supports the data presented in the book.
    Why has this not been a subject of research during all of this time?

    1. Ranger Rik

      i first discovered this in 1970's and the facts and imagery stayed with me all these years, Profound. Plants have responses and reactions to external stimuli, It may not be similar to our emotions but there is 'something' there,

    2. Danny

      2020 and I'm wondering the same thing. Only 80 pages deep and already one of my favorite books.

  7. Rich

    Certainly an interesting means of testing whether or not consciousness permeates all of creation. It in no way justifies the taking of animal life to eat, as some misguided carnivores in these posts claim. What I get from the film is a greater reverence for all of life and a slight feeling of nausea when reading the posts of those who attempt to use this well-meaning film to justify the continuation of the holocaust that has befallen the animal world and is being continued by their own hands.

    1. Elska_

      ...if humans stopped eating meat, the rest of the world won't. It IS the circle of life. Let it be. Though I don't agree with mass manufacturing of meat, it's still not a crime. Not in the human world, not in the animal world.

      Also, we're all omnivores.

    2. Carie Dawn

      Humans have the anatomy of a herbivore. Look it up.

    3. Elska_

      It doesn't matter what we were "meant" to eat. Most humans have been eating meat for thousands of years. Many other animals eat meat too. It's not a "holocaust" as Rich says. It's life. It works this way.

    4. Carie Dawn

      Well it does matter when we are dying of diseases directly attributed to meat-eating and that is because our bodies are not designed to eat it.

    5. Elska_

      I don't see that correlation. I'm a 2nd gen Indian, and I've witnessed other 2nd gens and also been back to India a couple times and I don't see one difference between them besides those who eat RED meat a lot will raise their blood pressure & get fatter. This can obviously lead to heart issues. Abusing any type of food will have consequences. I currently live in China and the same thing is mirrored here. The people who eat meat are just fine. The ones who don't eat meat are incredibly skinny and often don't replace the proteins they now lack, and are weaker because of it. The one thing i have noticed in both Asian countries is that people don't really have "Western" diseases like Alzheimers/schizophrenia/etc. Even cancer...I've heard of only 1 person ever being diagnosed with it, but in the States, it seems like everyone knows at least a couple being who have been diagnosed.

      I think the issue is rather how much you eat and the quality of what you at.

    6. a_no_n

      I guess these canine teeth lodged in my head are there by accident then.

    7. Carie Dawn

      Horses have 'canine' teeth too. Your point?

    8. a_no_n

      Horses have been recorded eating meet for as far back as four thousand years...want to try taking another swing?

    9. Carie Dawn

      Sure, people and animals will eat anything when they're starving. Factory farmers feed cows to cows, that's how Mad Cow disease started. Just because an animal is fed something by humans doesn't mean they are designed to eat it. And it's spelled m-e-a-t.

    10. a_no_n

      Ok that seems to be two different comments pasted together trying and failing to link three completly unrelated events.

      So what's your point? I was arguing against the idea that it isn't natural to eat meat, you've just proved that point for me with your first line (though yopu're trying to deny that same thing by your third line).

      it seems a bit rich for you to smugly point out my typo at the end of a comment that is barely readable.

    11. Carie Dawn

      It's not natural because the horses were fed meat by men. They did not find and eat it of their own accord. Just because you eat "food" that is given to you when you are starving and cannot access your natural diet, doesn't mean your body is designed to digest it properly. Human babies are given meat and milk by well-meaning parents who think it is healthy for them, yet so many children have allergies and behavioural problems that improve after eliminating these products. It's because their bodies are no longer under the constant stress of trying to process stuff that isn't meant to be ingested in the first place. I also like the example that I've read about placing a rabbit and an apple in a crib with a baby. The baby chooses to play with the rabbit and eat the apple ... why? If we are natural meat-eaters wouldn't the baby start chewing on the rabbit? I encourage you to research comparisons of the anatomy of humans vs. that of carnivores and herbivores. I would post a good chart but I can't include links here.

    12. a_no_n

      starving horses in the wild will eat meat...with or without human seem to not know what the word starving means.

      Also if meat wasn't healthy then we probably wouldn't have survived for tens of thousands of years on it.

      your opinion of diet seems to ignore almost all of human history.

      I take it you've never actually put a baby with a rabbit...first thing a baby usually does is try and put it's ears in it's mouth...but it doesn't eat the rabbit because IT'S A BABY.

    13. Carie Dawn

      Starving people and animals will eat anything (even people) in order to fill the void of hunger. That does not mean we are meant to eat it on a regular basis. It does not mean our system is designed to process it successfully. Pregnant women will sometimes have a craving for dirt, because they are lacking certain minerals. If they ate more organic vegetables (grown in more mineral-rich dirt) they might receive the missing ingredients. Meat causes cancer. They knew it in 1907 but nobody listened. Yes, we've been filling our bodies with meat but that does not mean it's healthy. If you're thirsty and drink a soda instead of water, that does not mean it is what your body needs or what is it designed to process, Diabetes is proof of that. It is just a choice that you make or, in the case of starving horses, the only option available. Before you argue again, and further state your disagreement, why don't you do some reading? Or are you worried that what you find will disprove your theories?

    14. a_no_n

      and that is some lovely flowery rhetoric.

      Meat causes cancer? ok you just lost what little credibility and respect i had for you right there. Shame on you!

      Cancer is a vicious disease which effects most of the population in some way, shame on you for using it like a buzzword, like the thousands and thousands of cranks and woos before you you've jumped straight in with claims about cancer in order to give your theory some sort of respectability. Either give me evidence for that claim or keep it to yourself, otherwise i'll just accuse you of making up bullsh/t.

    15. Carie Dawn

      You seem very angry. I don't think that's necessary. Where have you been lately? The evidence to show that meat causes cancer is all over the internet. This is why I am asking you to do some reading on your own. There are many links that I could post here, if allowed, to support my claims. Why don't you give some evidence to support your position that meat is perfectly fine and healthy and contributes to a longer life span because we are, in your opinion, naturally designed to eat it?

      Okay fine, here is just one blurb of many studies that are finding the same thing: "A number of hypotheses have been advanced to explain the connection between meat consumption and cancer risk. First, meat is devoid of fiber and other nutrients that have a protective effect. Meat also contains animal protein, saturated fat, and, in some cases, carcinogenic compounds such as heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) formed during the processing or cooking of meat. HCAs, formed as meat is cooked at high temperatures, and PAHs, formed during the burning of organic substances, are believed to increase cancer risk. In addition, the high fat content of meat and other animal products increases hormone production, thus increasing the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer.

      In 2007, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) published their second review of the major studies on food, nutrition, and cancer prevention. For cancers of the oesophagus, lung, pancreas, stomach, collorectum, endometrium, and prostate, it was determined that red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meat consumption possibly increased cancer risk. For colorectal cancer, a review of the literature determined that there is convincing scientific evidence that red meat increased cancer risk and that processed meat, saturated/animal fat, and heavily cooked meat were also convincing of increased risk."

      Now show us your research!

    16. a_no_n

      Not angry, just irritated by somebody who thinks their opinions are facts. yeah...the "Evidence" that aliens walk among us and that lizard people rule the planet is all over the internet too...sometimes it's best not to pay attention to everything you read on the internet, especially if it's telling you something you'd REALLY like to hear.

      as soon as you start showing me some actual scientific studies i'll listen to you.

    17. Carie Dawn

      Honey, it's you who won't look at the truth. I know it's hard to change ingrained habits. Life is comfortable where you are. But I get tired of "debating" with someone who hasn't followed and learned about the issues for the last twenty years like I have. Anyone can do some research and find out that what I'm saying is true. All the best. Cheers.

    18. a_no_n

      i'm fed up with debating with people who think they get to make up the rules and decide what is and isn't fact based on what makes them feel nice.

      You know nothing of the truth. Truth is what we can PROVE. I've asked you to prove your point and you've given me nothing but rhetoric.

      It's a pity you've wasted twenty years learning garbage...perhaps if you'd learned critical thinking frst you wouldn't have based so much on such fallacies as the ones you prescribe to.

    19. a_no_n

      i also just think it's sick when people spout nonsense about cancer...

    20. Carie Dawn

      Did you even read the post above? Cool your jets and open your eyes.

    21. a_no_n

      how about rather than come up with cool and funky ways to try and dismiss me you try posting some of that EVIDENCE i keep asking for!

    22. a_no_n

      oh my god what part of WILD Horses is it that you're having so much difficulty in comprehending?

    23. PennyRobinsonFanClub

      Utter rubbish.

    24. Carie Dawn

      Would you care to elaborate on that opinion?

    25. PennyRobinsonFanClub

      I think that says it all.

    26. Carie Dawn

      It states your opinion but you don't say why so it doesn't hold much weight is all.

    27. PennyRobinsonFanClub

      " the holocaust that has befallen the animal world "

      And what are lions and tigers and bears?

  8. Josh B

    WOW, this film makes me happy

  9. Olde Hippie

    I "discovered" this album shortly after its 1979 release and I was totally captured, sucked in, blown away . . . it owned me. I knew that the music was the soundtrack to a movie somewhere, but my search was futile, and the internet wasn't really here yet. Over the next 15 or 20 years, I got a little further, I knew this was a documentary, that it was viewed by mostly university students and researchers over there in England. I knew that Stevie watched the movie and went into his studio and created the music, uncannily syncing near perfectly, more often than not, with the visuals he never saw. With the internet finally exploding at the beginning of the 21st century, I got closer; yes this is a real movie, yes the movie and the music were technological marvels for 1978-79, no it is not available for viewing or purchase anywhere. In the world. I left my contact info at several movie sources, tell me when it appears on VHS, videodisk, smoke signal, whatever. Nothing. Nada.
    Each year I return for an extended search for the video and today, I found it. The entire film, with soundtrack.

    I will plug it into my home theatre tomorrow and savor each moment. Each musical thrill. Each frightening crash as the Earth is created and each goose bump as a flower opens its petals, and I will ponder the dream of coming back some day as a flower.

    The soundtrack was a technological breakthrough on so many levels. A magical marriage between Western Classical and African Roots. Whatever, and I mean What Ever your musical preferences, you haven't heard it until you've heard Stevie Wonder's Secret Journey Through The World Of Plants.

    Olde Hippie

    1. Moestaq Jackson Parker

      its amazing...your dedication, appreciation and wonder of the floral kingdom, kudus to you..i feel the same,our lives are so much richer and fuller because of our plant friends*
      may life be a *garden bursting into life*

  10. azav

    OMG. FFWD to 6:55 when the first words are uttered. The music before this is horrid, discordant and jarring.


    this is simply outstanding.

    1. PennyRobinsonFanClub

      this is simply outstanding ludicrous.


  12. emvoneuw

    Considering the year this was made, the footage is amazing. A little slow as a whole though. But the content is wonderful! Plant, animals, humans - we are all-one.

    1. Melody Record

      Never get tired of watching this film!! My FAVE of all time!!!
      It is our best EARTH be revisited over & over to RE-MEMBER TRUTH instead of the TV/MEDIA REALITY that is fully contrived.
      REAL LIFE is the most incredibly MAGICAL...Brilliant! & Beautiful phenomena!
      And it is given to us ALL...FREELY!!
      We are ONE with all life in this world....we need never be "lonely" as we are NEVER Alone!! All around us is infinite life - alive and connected the same way as we humans are.
      But gee,,, they forgot to teach us how to "relate" to NATURAL LIFE...but instead invest our personal time/energy/$$ into BUYING/SELLING rather than living free RESPECT to THE GREAT MYSTERY called LIFE that we all have awakened in.

  13. Thelonious Specter

    I saw this movie in the theater ans it changed my life.

  14. angeli alvares

    I find the documentary unrelevant to the book, it dragged and would have preferred it if the actual subject matter (feelings of plants) registered through whatever instruments have been invented) so all those vegans can shut up about cruelty to animals when we eat meat. I feel even matter has consciousness as times when I lose things like my keys for instance I talk to them mentally and eventually find out where they are. My little car was always waiting for me and I cried bitterly when I had to sell her (la voiture) and come back to India. She was always there waiting for me..She was my ticket to freedom of movement. She just wouldn't pass the smog test when she found out that I was going to sell her.

  15. 420 Vision

    excellent doc,.. really learned a lot here.

  16. mhos

    This is so auwesome Dr. Jewel Pookrum was just talking about this movie last week, which prompted me to seek it out. She is so true about plants. I remember Dr. Y said that "vegans jump on board with no killing animals but never thought to consider the plants feelings by the booth your are sitting at in Applebee's when you are chomping on a salad"

    1. Alice John

      "vegans jump on board with no killing animals but never thought to consider the plants feelings " This is an over-generalization and are simply unscientific. I know vegans/vegetarians who understand the feeling of plants. Do a survey before drawing any conclusions like this.

    2. Melody Record

      People are just posting their thoughts here from their experience.
      Much contradiction in both SCIENCE and in people's heads.
      No need to critique or condemn but to share our experiences to ENLIGHTEN/INFORM rather than criticize.
      (How often have Science Facts been revised??)

    3. Carie Dawn

      Animals have nervous systems so can feel pain and fear. Plants do not have central nervous systems. However, I do believe that one day we will know how to survive without eating plants either. Some people apparently already do it.

    4. a_no_n

      no they don't.

  17. Tom

    If you are like me, you've come to the comments section to see what could be expected from the documentary. Having now seen it, here are my observations:

    * I think you would get a lot more out of it if you watch it as a primer to reading the book or undertaking further investigation into the nature of plants. The reason for this is that, in terms of time, it is not focused on delivering the science behind plants although it does do that as well. I'd say that takes up maybe 25 minutes or so of the entire documentary. The rest of it is aimed at moving you out of the humdrum of city life to obtain some sort of feeling for the importance of plants and their place in the world.

    * Would I recommend seeing it? Definitely. This is a budding science and, given that, it is pregnant with enormous possibility. If you like seeing a field of study in its infancy and thinking about possibilities, you'd be very hard pressed to find a better documentary. Even if you have no intention of going out there and finding out more, there are enough experiments and observations detailed in the documentary to make you think and some how feel good about knowing what others have seen.

    * There is music and a dance scene in there so it is not like the other documentaries on TDF. It is from the late 70s so it is dated but this adds to the flavour of it. In fact, this now acts as a historical documentary for a section showing the workings of an African tribe in the south-west of the Sahara desert.

    If nothing else, I hope this comment gives some context to the documentary for those who are questioning whether to see it or not. As mentioned, my personal recommendation is to give it a go.


    1. Melody Record

      I have watched this film over 50 a bible is comforting to many - a reaching out to the magic/secrets that amaze us...this film reveals these "miracles" simply & scientifically - in full view!.
      My personal experiences confirms this simple well as logic via observation!

  18. aaa

    okay why do we care if plants have feelings? lol

  19. Caroline Harris

    It is really a pity that this doco associates itself with the book as it doesn't reflect it and as a doco it is poorly constructed and ultimately quite disjointed, even accounting for it's age. A piy as it it's supposed subject matter is revealing and important. This was the "longest" doco that I've ever seen in terms of the amount of pregnant pauses it has. I spent most of my time watching the length meter and kept finding excuses to stop it and do something else!

  20. Rochelle

    Amazing! That is the power made by our Creator.

  21. Philip Van Der Mude

    this video is like eating ethinic home cooking food the flavorand texture of it needs an open mind , espeically if you grew up eating # 1 or # 7 it does not matter whihc board you pick from it will have in it sweet or salty or combinations of both with a texture of acceptableness common to each resturant and food class .

    The science of plants if understood would complicate the USE of them by the sociopathic intersts of the Corp. so no further study was allowed , i betcha that is waht had happened and still is happening .supression of understanding in favor of confuse and conquer slavery

  22. Achems Razor

    Amazing doc.

    I always knew plants have feelings, like music, are conscious living entities. they actually, have profound consciousness. Plants, no doubt have there own time construct. again, probably has to do with Quantum Physics.

    Great experiments that are being done with plants.

    Have a lot of plants, literally have 12 foot high tropical plants in my living-room, have high ceilings. They must like my Rock and Roll music (LOL)

    You should treat your carrots better, Yavanna. (LOL)


  23. Linda

    Thank you for posting this documentary. Been a fan since it first came out, and the music too - of course. Last I heard the only way to see it was rent it - the "film" from Paramount or catch it if it rolled through town at some obscure theater.

    In much appreciation,

  24. Christoph

    The soundtrack is the best part! Awesome movie!

  25. Liz Vayne

    simply out, AMAZING... please do not miss it