The Lives of Plants

I find animals interesting, but have always been ho-hum about plants. The problem with plants is that they just...sit there. Animals move around, have lives that are more exciting, or even have lives that tell a story.

But now I've met the exciting plants of Hawaii. Take, for example, the banyan tree, famous for being the type of tree under which the Buddha found enlightenment. I had no idea the life of a tree could be so exciting. Here we have a gigantic one, in Hilo on the big island--

This is a tree with a dramatic life. It starts as a vine that wraps around some other tree. Gradually the vines multiply and hang down low enough to take root in the soil. When enough of the vines have surrounded the original tree, it's choked off and replaced by the new banyan tree.

There's drama in the life of each individual banyan tree, but I suspect that for a lot of plants, the drama is in the story of the species' evolution--the way they wound up in threatening niches and certain mutants were lucky enough to survive. There's got to be a good story behind the completely marvelous appendages of a banana tree.

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