Secret World of Plants

New Atlantis presents ‘The Secret World of Plants’, directed and written by Fernando L Rodriguez and narrated by Natalia Paessler, offers a look into the world of plants and how they play an important role in the earth’s ecology.  The film focuses on the evolution of various plant species and how they have adapted in our changing environments to survive and fulfill their purpose.

The documentary presents not only plants that are benign and play a role in producing valuable naturally occurring chemicals, but also carnivorous plants such as Venus fly traps, Sundew plants, and Pitcher plants.

The Pitcher plant secretes sweet smelling nectar which attracts insects within them until the liquid inside ends up digesting the insect as it is unable to climb out of their trap.  The Sundew plant has the same mechanism in which it also lures unsuspecting insect prey before being trapped in its sticky substance and consumes them.

The film changes pace and returns to the more benign plant kingdom, as the narrator discusses the different types of weeds and growth that most likely hadn’t changed since the beginning of the Dinosaurs. One of the chief ideas that are repeated throughout the documentary is the consideration that plant species, inhabiting the earth since the Dinosaurs, gradually evolved over time and even around the pollution from the world of man. They are able to move along the evolutionary tract which enables them to continue their life span.

The film addresses the Fern, creeping palm leaves in the Sahara desert, to long weed like species that grow along small bodies of water such as lakes and ponds.  The documentary then proceeds to talk about the different trees of the forest such as Conifers and Sequoias. It details how the trees were able to survive in their climates due to the thickness of their trunks that reach some 100 meters tall.

The film then reverts to Africa where the Balboa tree exists, an interesting edition to the tree family that grows in most places of the continent; it is easily identified by its bottle shape and the fact that in the dry season, when it loses its leaves, its branches makes it look like tree roots. There are plants whose large leaves is a survival attribute itself for as they sit at the forest floor and do not get enough sunlight, their large leaves acts as solar panels, storing as much light and nutrients it can so it can continue to survive despite nutrient deficiency.

The series of plants such as water lilies utilize their environment to flourish with thorn laden outer shells, ribbing within their leaves to float, and of course, the lilies they provide that are able to change color throughout the day.

Plant enthusiasts, particularly those interested in biology and botany, will enjoy this rather exhaustive documentary covering the entire globe and numerous ecological environments.  Whether it’s the sandy dunes of desserts, the abundant jungles of the Amazon, or the cold tundra’s of the northern hemisphere,  plants of varying species can be found having adapted and thus overcoming the obstacles to survive.