This winter, two trees in Hasselt, Belgium managed to deliver a blow to a brick wall in a café parking lot, reports local designer Pablo Hannon, who sent these pictures from the scene of the battle.
“I drove past this spot many times, but like it goes, only today I ‘saw’ it,” said Pablo. Apparently, the first tree had already been attacking the wall very, very slowly for quite some time. It had been wrapping its roots around the brick so gradually that he never noticed anything. Nor did the property owners do anything about the tree’s “octopus thing,” as Pablo described the weird behavior of its roots.
It was only when a second tree made a much faster movement—falling through another part of the wall—that this long-standing battle of trees vs. wall caught the attention of humans.
Do we underestimate plant behavior just because it occurs on a different time scale and physical scale than animal behavior? Sara just sent me a long article in the New Yorker on plant behavior and intelligence, in which Michael Pollan investigates this question.
Many people see plants as weak and passive. Yet when we finally pay attention, we are shocked by the things they managed to do without us noticing, just because they do them more slowly than we would. For example, see the lively discussion on this blog about plants who’ve engulfed fences and other objects just by growing.
Have you experienced any slow but mighty plant behavior in your neighborhood?
Photos courtesy of Pablo Hannon. Thanks for another great contribution to the Urban Plant Research project!