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David Attenborough probes secret lives of plants in The Green Planet

And you thought trees were so nice. New five part BBC Earth special reveals otherwise. A plant stabbed David Atten borough during filming of his new five art nature series The Green Planet. But in the cholla cactuss defense Attenboroughs hand should not have been inside it in the first place. The 96 year old broadcaster was in California studying the cactus and wore thick gloves to shield him from its spines but they found a way to puncture his hand nonetheless.

The cholla really is a physical danger. It has very dense spines in rosettes so they point in all directions Attenborough told The Telegraph. If you just brush against it the spines are like spicules of glass I mean they are that sharp and they go into you and you really have trouble getting them out. So that is a really dangerous plant. The cholla is an active aggressor. You feel you better stand back and you better watch out for it.

The cholla cactus is one of the many organisms featured in The Green Planet which probes the secret lives of plants and aims to show they can be just as competitive and combative as animals. Filmed in 27 countries over four years the series makes its Canadian debut Wednesday on BBC Earth which is also available via Amazon Prime Video. Its the first time Attenborough has trained his lens on plants since his 1995 series The Private Life of Plants. Episode 3 travels to Canada to watch the springtime struggle between maple trees and sap sucker woodpeckers. Hungry birds hammer holes in the bark to get at the pure maple syrup Attenborough says. Unhappy with the intrusion the trees work to seal the holes only to have the birds drill more. And its not just animals that are plants antagonists.

Plants fight one another plants strangle one another and you can actually see that happening in real time Attenborough said. That you can suddenly see a plant putting out a tentacle. Now you know it cant actually see but you can see it trying to find its victim. And when it does finally touch the victim it wraps around it quickly and strangles it. Its pretty tough stuff. Attenborough added that when he filmed The Private Life of Plants the crew was somewhat limited by heavy primitive equipment. But todays lightweight advanced technology makes the process easier.

So you now have the ability to go into a real forest you can see a plant growing with its neighbors fighting its neighbors or moving with its neighbors or dying he explained. That in my view is what brings the thing to life and which should make people say Good lord these extraordinary organisms are just like us. In the sense that they live and die that they fight they have to fight for neighbors they have to learn to reproduce and all those sorts of things. But just that they do it so slowly so we have never seen that before. The Green Planet premieres Wednesday July 6 at 9 p.m. ETPT exclusively on BBC Earth in Canada. BBC Earth is also available via Prime Video.

About Nabeel Haider

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