My Philodendron’s Favorite Music is Beethoven

Considerations of Plant Sentience in Elif Shafak's The Island of Missing Trees


  • Milo Hardison Digital Literature Review



It is necessary to look at how things we may consider ‘below us’ have sentience, and in turn a developed consciousness, on their own in order to take away the notion that one species is above the other; each one shares the world and influences the development of the other. Through plants, we can further understand our minds and how the environment around us fosters sentience. In this essay I argue that plant life, specifically through examining mushroom forests and extreme reactions from other plant types, contains a level of sentience, consciousness, and intelligence previously ignored. “Arts of Inclusion, or How to Love a Mushroom” written by Anna Tsing develops the basic information about the lives of mushrooms and their interactions with habitats within the essay, while “Multispecies Studies: Cultivating Arts of Attentiveness” informs the argument of sentience within beings other than humans. Through looking at studies of plant interactions with each other, their environment, and humans in The Island of Missing Trees’s chapters “Roots,” “Branches,” and “Rings” and in three episodes of the television show “Scavengers Reign,” in addition to scientific research about the subject, I argue that different species of plants are sentient beings and deserve the same respective level of attentiveness. This attentiveness can change how plants are seen and characterized in the everyday, academia, and media.


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Tsing, Anna. “Arts of Inclusion, or, How to Love a Mushroom.” Unloved Others: Death of the Disregarded in the Time of Extinction, edited by Monique Rooney, Australian Humanities Review, May 2011.




How to Cite

Hardison, M. (2024). My Philodendron’s Favorite Music is Beethoven: Considerations of Plant Sentience in Elif Shafak’s The Island of Missing Trees. Digital Literature Review, 11(1), 84–97.