Modern plants can be smart and sexy – but how smart are they really? Huh?
Humans are generally considered the smartest animals. This claim is based on our high ratio of brain to body size, the invention of television and deep-frying, and of course our mastery of deficit financing.
But turning to the plant kingdom for a second, who are the leading intellectual lights over there? Which plants are more intelligent than other plants? Which plants are relative geniuses and which the purest simpletons? If the plants all had a huge Jeopardy tournament, who would win? What are the smartest plants, and which are by and large a bunch of assclowns?
What is needed is some kind of ranking system so that we can rank the top 100 smartest plants and figure out which one is smartest in absolute terms, and then bestow some kind of award on it and update its Wikipedia page.
Many will argue that such a question is meaningless, as plants do not have brains and so far they have been unified in their refusal to submit to the SATs or indeed any form of standardized testing whatsoever. But let us consider the question from another point of view. Internal representations of the world: check. Ability to formulate and execute complicated long-term plans: check. Responds to changes in the environment in a way calculated to improve its lot: check. Yep, plants are plenty smart enough to be ranked. They may even be smart enough to rank themselves, so peer voting should be included in the evaluation process. Or perhaps we'll need an open competition to decide the issue, like a spelling bee but tailored to assess plant intelligence, then we can decide the thing fairly, on a level field if you will (which wouldn't be fair to climbing plants or those that thrive on rocky outcroppings). The revenue generated from the sales of rights to televise the tourney (including but not limited, of course, to the ancillary rights) could help cover the costs of the whole thing and possibly leave enough left over to provide a few college scholarships for the smartest plants or further pad the foreign bank accounts of well-heeled human investors.
Plants have been given the marshmallow test and some classes, in particular the succulents, have shown remarkable capacity for delaying gratification. However, when exposed to chemical x, which promotes root tip growth and nutrient absorption, none were able to resist for more than a few microseconds.
What about the sexiest plants? I nominate the vulva – wait no, the orchid is supposed to be sexier but they are sooo expensive, and paying a lot for stuff is not something I find particularly sexy, so I'm sticking with the vulva, at least until somebody can show me a hotter piece of plant ass.
And what about the highly offensive typecasting of plants in Hollywood movies of the 50s and 60s?
I could say more on this subject but perhaps another time, my ride is here.