Plantain Planning

The plantain, a small plant native to Europe, has successfully spread around the world. Its success owes to savvy in adapting to local conditions.

“Some of the ‘rules of ecology’ simply didn’t apply to this species,” marveled Irish botanist Annabel Smith. “Small populations tend to have little genetic diversity, while large populations with many offspring, such as those with lots of seeds, have more genetic diversity. More genetic diversity means plants are better able to adapt to environmental changes. In their native range, the environment determined the plantain’s genetic diversity. But, in new environments, these rule breakers were adapting better than most other plants.”

“In Europe, plantains played by the rules, but by breaking outside of Europe, it didn’t matter what kind of environment they were living in, the plantains almost always had high genetic diversity and high adaptability,” concurred Irish biologist Yvonne Buckley.

Plants often spin out new genetic combinations when challenged by new environments. These novel sequences are the molecular artifacts of the evolutionary thought process.

In their evolutionary experimentation, plants may duplicate their genome, with the original serving as a reference, and the copy as a testbed. For instance, 70 million years ago, the tomato triplicated its genome: keeping a preserved master copy and generating 2 spare copies to adaptively mutate. One result was the birth of the potato, a tuber-producing evolutionary offspring.

Each organism has a localized energetic force of coherence which abets its survival. Changes in traits – evolution – are the outcomes of this force. The proof of this theory (about coherence) has been repeatedly shown by organisms which evolved very specific adaptations suited to niche habitats or peculiar lifestyles. Coherence is a creative and focused force.

Plantains are highly adaptable. Adaptability is the term used for fluidity in accommodating oneself into a new environment. Adaptability is in of itself a trait, albeit an invisible aspect of localized coherence.


Ishi Nobu, The Science of Existence, BookBaby (2019).

Ishi Nobu, The Elements of Evolution, BookBaby (2019).

Annabel L. Smith et al, “Global gene flow releases invasive plants from environmental constraints on genetic diversity,” PNAS (25 February 2020).

“‘Rule breaking’ plants may be climate change survivors,” ScienceDaily (10 February 2020).