Plants: The Secret Superheroes of Our World

There’s nothing quite so magical as watching plants grow – from tiny seeds and shoots to flourishing leaves and flowers. 

Learning to become little plant detectives is an important part of the Science curriculum in primary schools, with children learning to name local flowers, bushes and trees, exploring the different parts and functions of a plant and looking into what plants need to grow and thrive.

“Lulu Loves Flowers”, “The Extraordinary Gardener” and “Secret Sky Gardens” are charming stories about the importance of Nature, the subliminal teaching being that if we work hard enough, our dreams really can come true.

Then, of course, comes the dreaded teenage years, and suddenly, plants are no longer the centre of our universe. We’ve got more important things to worry about, like perfecting our eye-rolls and deciding which emoji best expresses our mood.

In 2002 I went on a road trip through the Sequoia National Forest in California driving the stretch between Bakersfield and Fresno. I must have been open-mouthed seeing the immense size of the trees measuring over 250 feet tall (that’s a whopping 75 metres for our metric pals).

These giants were once small plants, albeit anything up to 3,000 years ago.

Learning history at school was not my favourite subject. We had to stuff our brains with the dullest facts about wars, their dates, the ever revolving doors of prime ministers and a parade of religious figures that even the most caffeinated historian would have difficulty recalling.

Then I chanced upon the book “Seeds Of Change”. by Henry Hobhouse:  He took six plants and showed how they brought about long-term changes to history.  Until then I’d been convinced that monarchs, politicians and armies were the sole architects of change. 

A whole new perspective had been unveiled. It was like discovering that the spice rack had secretly been running the kitchen all along!

In a world where history books usually put humans in the spotlight, Hobhouse emphasized how plants were indeed a central and influential factor to our overall historical process. 

Sugar, tea, cotton, potatoes, quinine and cocoa were the real players that shaped human development, feeding an important role in man’s need (ok let’s be honest \ here – man’s greed).

Those unassuming plants were the driving forces behind economic growth, the keys to political power and even the tools of conquest.

Martin Luther King would not have been an American if it weren’t for the sugar trade. Cotton – the stuff that fuelled the forced migration and dark chapter of slavery. Sugar was once a luxury, but by 1800, whole islands had been planted with it. The Irish migration to the US was catalysed by the potato (or lack of) in the 1850’s.  The British made a fortune shipping tea grown in India to China (and yes heroin was part of that trade-off); the British Empire would never have been sustained were it not for the anti-malarial properties of quinine.

So, thanks to Henry Hobhouse I got a fresh perspective on history – one that made me see the world through the eyes of plants. It’s like they were always there, just waiting for someone to give them the green light.


To rekindle any lost fascination with plants, several innovative and fun designs are now available that link our plants with music.

On their website it reads:  PLANTChoir is a small, durable, Bluetooth device that allows you to compose, generate, and listen to real-time music produced by plants. Using biofeedback technology and a custom mobile app, PLANTChoir allows you to interact with your plants in a way that has never been experienced before.

I think we’ve barely scratched the surface with our knowledge of plants and how we can relate to them.

To nurture your love of wanton experimentation, there’s a 10% discount offer available – https://plantchoir.com/?al_ic=bsKXruyj

And then there’s the pineapple.  Christopher Columbus was noted in school history as being the explorer who discovered North America (at a time when at least 8 million people already lived there)

We now know he didn’t; he thought he was in India. Columbus never even set foot on the continent.  What he should be remembered for was bringing back to Europe a single pineapple in 1496.  Actually he brought many back but only one survived the long journey.

As they were an exotic fruit, endorsed by royalty and difficult to source they quickly came to signify nobility, money-to-burn wealth and impeccable taste.  To me they are brimming with Vitamin C and Bromelain.

Imagine your home without any plants at all. That’s not something I would like.  Here are a selection of plants that are easy to care for and invaluable for their release of oxygen in your rooms:

  • Weeping Fig
  • Orchid
  • Spider Plant (also known to absorb toxins)
  • Pothos (known as the “money plant” in India and a popular Feng Shui plant)
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Arcea 
  • Philodendrons (also popular with Feng Shui enthusiasts)

In a world filled with wonder, beauty and incredible diversity, plants are the unsung heroes that keep our planet thriving. 

From the tiniest mosses to those towering sequoias, they are the green thread that weaves through the tapestry of life on Earth. 

So, the next time you pass by a garden in bloom, hike through a lush forest, or simply gaze at a potted plant on your windowsill, remember the remarkable stories and the profound impact that these seemingly ordinary organisms have on our lives. 

Embrace the green world around you, nurture it, and let it remind you of the extraordinary power of nature’s quiet giants – our beloved plants.

Dr. Elmar Jung

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