How to Grow a Planet is a documentary series that reveals how plants, and not humans, are the most crucial living thing on Earth, with the power to both sustain and destroy us. Professor Iain Stewart guides viewers on a journey that details how plants played a crucial role in creating and sustaining animal life on Earth. Usually films about nature focus almost exclusively on animals, with perhaps a glancing mention of plants. This is even truer in docs about evolution and stories of the history of life on Earth. But have you ever wondered when your favorite hot pepper first appeared? What about those ferns in your garden — do they come from an even older line of plants? Most biology buffs can tell you that sharks were around during the age of the dinosaurs — but what about flowers? How recent are they? And grasses? And what did ancient trees look like? This show goes through all this, and best yet, it actually explains a lot of the biology along the way. For example, the fruits we know and love (and some so-called “vegetables” like tomatoes and cucumbers) are really jumbo-sized plant ovaries (yep, you’re eating plant eggs). This was an adaptation of flowering plants to transfer their seeds over long distances via the mammals that eat their fruits. And seeds, in turn, were a novel way of enduring harsh climates by coating the next generation in a thick, protective shell. Ferns don’t do this, because they came before flowers or seeds, and use air-borne spores to reproduce. All this began a mere 400 million years ago, when roots first evolved and allowed the first primitive plants to migrate onto land and evolve leaves. It was amazing how the film showed that in a sealed chamber plants provided enough oxygen for a person to survive for days! This series is incredible. I believe that all school-age students should watch this to help them connect with the land that gives them life. It some how makes botany interesting and entertaining. I learned things about plants, flowers and trees that I never knew before. And I am an avid biology buff, with a college degree in the subject. I have been watching documentaries like this for 50 years, and they keep getting better and better. But hands down this is the best ever, and tells the story of life in new and interesting ways. The cinematography is astounding, and the computer graphics jaw-dropping. I’ve seen a lot of great documentaries but nearly passed on this one, because I was not curious about plants and thought it would be boring. Turned out to be the most fascinating and enjoyable documentary I’ve seen yet. A fantastic, must-watch show. This is one of the best nature documentaries I’ve ever seen. The host, Iain Stewart, has a natural exuberance and captivating method of storytelling. I have loved every single Iain Stewart documentary I’ve managed to find, and this series is one of my favorites. (His Scottish accent could be difficult to understand, but there are subtitles.) Documentary 2012 TV-G.
1. Life from Light
2. The Power of Flowers
3. The Challenger (grasses)
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