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Research on Plant Charisma Should be a Dying Breed

Does study on the why some plants are charismatic really need to be conducted?

Are you a fan of your philodendron? Do you adore your delphinium? Perhaps you are crazy about your cactus?

While plants have all sorts of environmental and emotional benefits, would you say it’s important for a research project to inform us about the how or why plants are charismatic? That’s what a doctoral dissertation by a researcher at the University of Sheffield (UK) is all about.

According to this researcher “finding concrete answers to what makes a plant charismatic will be able to serve two important purposes. Firstly it will allow even better use of charismatic plants to encourage public efforts towards conserving, … and … secondly, with this information it will be possible to carry out investigations of where biases caused by charisma are occurring in plant conservation both in government policy and in through public action, and these biases can be corrected in order to ensure conservation effort is based on need, not human whims. This could be a vital part of improving the way in which we work to fight the biodiversity crisis the world is currently facing.”

Really?

Should we next invite all plants feeling less charismatic to a session with a psychologist? “Yes, Ms. Poison Ivy, I see we will have to spend a great deal of time on the couch while we determine why you think you are being misunderstood?” Oh, please.

Even the most ardent plant buff and horticulturist must admit that this research is way off base. I love my plants as much as the next person, but are they charismatic? Hardly.

Perhaps for her next project this researcher could investigate something just a little more significant than whether my fern is feeling depressed today.

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  1. Not so sure the research needs to be done to see if our plants are friendly or not, but it does help to find out the health benefits that plants provide.

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