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Relationship with Plants

Plants Might Move with the Moon Just as the Oceans Do with Tides

The gravitational pull of the moon may affect more than just the rise and fall of the oceans; scientists believe plants respond too. Through observation, they’ve noticed some plants’ leaves wave up and down at night, and this “leaftide” seems to correspond with gravitational changes.

One researcher calls it the "leaftide"

Tree in moonlight - A hawthorn tree in the moonlight (Robert Canis/Frank Lane Picture Library/Corbis)

By Marissa Fessenden
August 19, 2015

Plants typically move too slowly or too subtly for the unaided human eye to appreciate. Instead, we rely on time-lapse photography to reveal their waving branches, unfurling tendrils and grasping vines. But most of those movements are solely initiated by the plants themselves. Now at least one scientist thinks there is an outside influence tugging on the Earth’s vegetation.

The gravitational pull of the Moon doesn’t just cause the ocean to rise and fall, plants wave their leaves in response to the Moon, reports Jacob Aron for New Scientist. Peter Barlow of the University of Bristol, U.K., decided to investigate why some plants’ leaves wave up and down even when they grow at night (many day-growing plants have a similar dance in response to light levels, see these tomato seedlings nodding and bowing as they stretch taller). 

Barlow looked at data about bean plants from1920s to today and matched leave movements with estimates of the local gravitational pull of the Moon at the time. The motions corresponded well with the gravitational changes, he reports in Annals of Botany. Furthermore, plants on the International Space Station showed a 90-minute cycle that lined up with the 90-minute orbit and changing position relative to the Moon. 

Aron writes that the movement of water within the plant might be responsible:

Ocean tides are produced by a combination of the sun and moon’s gravity and Earth’s rotation, creating bulges of water on opposite sides of the planet. For plants, Barlow says water movement in the pulvinus, the “joint” where leaf meets stem, could be responsible.

Other researchers point out that the influences of temperature changes and plants' own internal circadian clock may actually overpower any minute tugs on plants’ water. However, the possibility that Earth experiences a "leaftide" is just romantic enough for us to wish for it to be true.

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Sowing the Seeds of Health and Community:

Man’s Threefold Relationship to Plants 

Article written by Mary Anne Aguonie, 2015
One of the main questions that must be answered when examining the practice of following a planting calendar and using cosmic rhythms to inform one’s cultivation activities is "Why?” What are we hoping to achieve, and why is that achievement important? While it is true that a knowledge and cooperation with cosmic forces can assist us in fostering healthy, vivacious food, medicine plants, and healing and strengthening of soils, in fact it is what happens as a result of the consumption and utilization of these plants that is the aspiration. And in going one step further, the effect these plants have on those who use them is what Steiner was indicating when he linked his 1924 agriculture lectures to his much larger body of work concerning human health. Many years before, in his more prolific work with health, education and social/economic life, Steiner outlined the "threefoldness” of the human organism in his lectures. In this concept of threefoldness, the physical regions of the body and their functions are intricately linked with the psychological functions of the individual. Contemporary medical research has since revealed what Steiner knew, that body and mind are connected. This is the foundation with which one can see man’s fundamental relationship to the structure of the plant, and how each plant’s specific form reveals its action on the body. 

Three Fold ManThree Fold Man

In the physical body, Steiner outlined three principal functional areas, each supporting a particular psychological activity. The nerve sense system is primarily centered in the nervous system. One can think about this location as being the head. This system supports thinking and perception. The rhythmic system includes the breathing and the circulatory system supports feeling. The rhythmic system can be depicted as located in the trunk. The motor-metabolic system includes the organs below the diaphragm and the limbs, and supports willing. This system can be pictured as being in the limbs and below the diaphragm. 
Now let us look at the structure of a plant as it is seen from the ground. It unfolds its roots in the soil, spreading out and investigating its surroundings. The plant develops the leaves from the stem, which transports water and nutrients around the plant, as well as performs respiration. The flowers and fruit, containing the seeds tend to form on the topmost portion. The reproductive organs are seen to orient themselves toward the sky. Thus the roots of the plant can be considered its nerves sense system, the stem and leaves as the rhythmic system, and the flower and reproductive portion as the motor-metabolic system. 
In this way, man appears like an inverse plant, with his nerve sense in relationship to the root-like portion, his rhythmic characteristic of the trunk corresponding to the stem and leaf, and the motor-metabolic system of his limbs and reproduction in relationship to the flower and fruit of the plant. We know that plants come in an amazing variety of forms and no two plants, even of the same species, are identical in shape or equal in development among the parts. In fact, when we see a plant that is disproportionately developed in one part or another, it gives us clues to the part of the human body that aspect of the plant might have a strong affinity for. For example, the fruits of apple trees, which are produced from their prolific flowers, have a slender stem and distant roots. This seems to indicate a strong inclination toward the motor-metabolic system in man. Let us remember that the motor-metabolic system is responsible for willing. What does this mean, in practical terms? 
An apple grown and tended using cosmic rhythms and an understanding of the forces behind the natural world will be able to manifest its most complete, vitality-filled "apple-ness”. It will contain the active substance that will assist the person who eats it in exercising their will. Likewise, a plant which expresses a strong leafy tendency corresponding to the human rhythmic system will work in such a way to strengthen the feeling part of man; his "heart”. This kind of specialization we see in plant forms today is in part a by-product of many of thousands of years of cultivation in order to make them more fitting for food production. The hand of the farmer and gardener encouraged a reciprocal bond from the plants he tended. Thus we have remained ever entwined. What we eat matters.
Today it is more crucial than ever, as we tend our gardens and farms using planting calendars, compost preparations, homeopathy, and our own observation and intuition that we keep in mind this fundamental relationship between man and the plants. We use these tools passed down to us and rediscovered for us not only as ways to grow disease-resistant and beautiful produce, but also to imbue in what we grow the wholeness necessary to fill those who eat of it with what they need to develop, as Steiner said, "living connections of the microcosm to the macrocosm.1” Only with these rediscovered, renewed and strengthened connections can mankind progress from today’s confusion and calamity to balance, health, and peace. 
Our tasks as growers of food and medicine plants is so much more than making an income from the sale of food, however organically or biodynamically grown. As we plant our carrots and broccoli and yarrow, we also sow seeds of community. Our role is one akin to transformers of society, working through the deep-seated friendship between humans and plants. As our will acts through our hands, diving between the tender shoots, pulling away weeds or tucking fragile roots under the earth, we feel a love for our tender sprouts filling our hearts. This love fills our heads with a new way to see the world and others, in the harvesting and bringing of this food into homes, tables, and bodies. The farm and the garden becomes the center, the beginning and end of a cycle that starts with a seed.
Works Cited:
1. Rudolf Steiner, Lecture, Dornach, 13 December 1914 
2. Works Consulted: Schmidt, Gerhard. The Dynamics of Nutrition. Biodynamic Farming & Gardening Association, Rhode Island, 1980.
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