The relationship of plants to other plants, animals, and humans is a topic that should interest all of us. Will Benson, in his book, Kingdom of Plants, delves into these relationships to show how plants evolved and continue to involve, and also how man has impacted these relationships. With the goal of changing the attitudes of the uniformed and disinterested Benson shows why we have to change our policies and actions to preserve the plants of the earth of suffer dire consequences.
By looking at a multitude of relationships within the plant kingdom as well as with animals including mankind, Benson shows how interrelated all living things are to each other. Benson begins with a review of the evolution of plants from bacteria and algae to liverworts, and flowering plants. He discusses the role of photosynthesis and the problems of living on land to show how plants adapted to survive. Turning to flowers, the reproductive structures of plants, the author discusses many of the relationships between plants and their animal pollinators to ensure the continuation of the species. When discussing the form and function of plants, Benson shows how the Fibonaci sequence and Golden Ratio apply to the plant world and outlines the ways plants have shaped the world. Through a consideration of plant communication the author shows how plants and animals are related by the visual, chemical, and olfactory signals that plants give to both attract and deter animals. A discussion on the adaptation of plants to extreme environments such as deserts leads to an exploration of the complex role fungi play in plant growth. Emphasizing the importance of a balance between plants and mankind Benson suggests that changes in climate and habitat composition facing plants are happening too quickly for plants to adapt and that we shall lose them to the detriment of mankind; “No plants, no human” he says. Benson believes the environmental problems we face are connected to the driving forces of economics and politics but that the situation is far from hopeless because mankind has both the knowledge and tools to strike the right balance between biodiversity and survival of the human species.