How many times a day are you consciously aware of the plants around you? I dare say: not very often. And if we do notice them, is it because they provide us with food, shadow or serve as home decoration? Often times when we notice plants and they do not directly serve our needs, we very quickly tend to think of them as a nuisance. Why? Falling leaves make a mess, grass should be trimmed, and dandelions are seen as weeds we should get rid of. Why? A common prejudice about plants is that they are passive and simple organisms that cannot and should not obstruct human behaviour and action, because they do not have a life of their own.

In this podcast, botanical philosopher Norbert Peeters elaborates on his passion for plants and the fascination and underexposed relation Charles Darwin had with plants. Additionally, he explains what plant blindness is and where it comes from, and why we still structurally undermine the complexity and awesomeness of plants. So, one could argue that plants can be ingenious, complex organisms. But are plants intelligent, and, if so, in what way? Could we maybe even carefully speak of plant psychology?

Norbert is one of the guest speakers of the Future Based meetup ‘Technolgical Ecology’ on the 25th of February at Perdu Amsterdam. Join us for more nature-tech-design inspiration. Click here for tickets and more information.

Norbert Peeters is a botanical philosopher, whose research focuses on an investigation of the philosophical and historical foundations, implicit presuppositions and argumentative structure of the concept of wilderness, and its practical application in Dutch wildlife conservation projects.For more information about Norbert visit

The podcast’s intermezzos are part of a project by Fillip Studios titled Arabidopsis Symphony, which is executed in collaboration with the department of Plant Physiology at Wageningen University. It explores the capabilities of plants to make music in the form of a plant orchestra that translates growth data into sound, the composer of which is Falk Hübner. For more information visit


00:00 Introduction Podcast and Norbert Peeters / 1:35 Introduction by Norbert Peeters / 3:00 Wouter Oudemans / 5:00 Darwin and the Botanical Revolution / 6:50 Plant Blindness / 8:00 Painted grass / 9:00 Arabidopsis Symphony / 10:00 Master – subordinate relationship / 10:00 The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan / 12:00 Successful crops / 13:00 Death of grass, a dystopian scenarios on the interdependent relation with plants / 15:00 Plant Utopia / 16:00 The difference between my cat and my houseplants/ 18:00 Anthropocene? / 20:00 Aristotle and plant psychology / 22:00 Animalistic plants / 24:00 Darwin and the power of movement in plants / 26:00 The sensory relation of plants / 28:00 decision making = intelligence? / 30:00 Anthropomorphism / 31:00 S.O.S signals; plant language / 33:00 This is plant intelligence / 36:00 ‘Intelligence’ is too much a human-based term / 39:00 Plant ethics / 42:00 Intelligence is widely there / 44:00 What is it like to be plant? / 45:00 Outro

Credits: Banner by Dana Dijkgraaf / Edit by Kees Müller.