The Secret Life of Plants

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Not to be confused with the unrelated nature documentary by David Attenborough, The Private Life of Plants.
"Chris Bird" redirects here. For the googologist who invented Bird's Proof, see Chris Bird (large numbers).
The Secret Life of Plants
The Secret Life of Plants cover
Author Peter Tompkins, Christopher Bird
Publisher Harper & Row
Publication date
ISBN 0-06-091587-0
OCLC 19751846

The Secret Life of Plants (1973) is a book by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird. The book documents controversial experiments that reveal unusual phenomena regarding plants such as plant sentience, discovered through experimentation. It goes on to discuss philosophies and progressive farming methods based on these findings.


Christopher Bird (May 11, 1928 – May 2, 1996) was a best-selling author. Christopher Bird was also author of the book The Divining Hand: The 500-Year-Old Mystery of Dowsing.[1] Peter Tompkins (April 19, 1919 in Athens, Georgia - January 23, 2007), father of author Ptolemy Tompkins, worked as a journalist, as well as an US military intelligence officer for the OSS in Italy during the Second World War[2]


The book includes summaries of the life and work of 20th century scientists Jagdish Chandra Bose and Corentin Louis Kervran as well as 19th century scientist George Washington Carver.

The book includes experiments on plant stimuli using a polygraph, a method which was pioneered by Cleve Backster.[3][4] Parts of the book attempt to disparage science, particularly plant biology, for example by claiming science is not concerned with "what makes plants live", in order to promote its own viewpoint that plants have emotions. The authors further say the authorities are unable to accept that emotional plants "might originate in a supramaterial world of cosmic beings which, as fairies, elves, gnomes, sylphs, and a host of other creatures, were a matter of direct vision and experience to clairvoyants among the Celts and other sensitives."[3]


The book was the basis for the 1979 documentary of the same name,[5] directed by Walon Green and featuring a soundtrack by Stevie Wonder, later released as Journey through the Secret Life of Plants. The film made use of time-lapse photography (where plants are seen growing in a few seconds, creepers reach out to other plants and tug on them, mushrooms and flowers open).[6] The film was originally distributed by Paramount Pictures.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Christopher Bird, 68, a Best-Selling Author - New York Times". 1996-05-06. Retrieved 2011-10-24. 
  2. ^ Richard Harris Smith (1972). OSS: The Secret History of America's First Central Intelligence Agency. University of California Press. pp. 86–87. ISBN 978-0-520-02023-8. 
  3. ^ a b Abelson, P. H. (21 June 1974). "Pseudoscience". Science 184 (4143): 1233–1233. doi:10.1126/science.184.4143.1233. 
  4. ^ Terzian, Yervant (editor) (1998). Carl Sagan's universe [1] (Repr. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-57286-X.  External link in |title= (help)
  5. ^ The Secret Life of Plants video on YouTube
  6. ^ The Secret Life of Plants at the Internet Movie Database