Biosemiotics is the idea that all life is involved in meaning making. It has been defined as ‘the study of distinctions that make organisms, what they recognize, what they intend, and what they know’. This happens at the level of single-celled organisms, which can collect information and make decisions. The plasmodium of the slime mould Physarum polycephalum, for example, is an amoeba-like cell with some surprising abilities. When presented with a maze in the lab, it can find the shortest route through it in a way that would be impossible were it only to be responding to basic environmental signals with behavioural reflexes. You could say that the plasmodium has its own perception of the world, composed of a wide array of information collected from the environment, which it evaluates and uses to make decisions for future behaviour.

from PLANTA SAPIENS by Paco Calvo & Natalie Lawrence

found here.

I read about the amazing maze-running capability of slime mould in Ways of Being, but Biosemiotics is a new word for me.


Lichens are a hybrid of fungi and algae, or fungi and bacteria.

The fungus spreads the strands of its body over the ground and provides a welcoming bed. The alga or bacterium nestles inside these strands and uses the sun’s energy to assemble sugar and other nutritious molecules. As in any marriage, both partners are changed by their union. The fungus body spreads out, turning itself into a structure similar to a tree leaf: a protective upper crust, a layer for the light-capturing algae, and tiny pores for breathing. The algal partner loses its cell wall, surrenders protection to the fungus, and gives up sexual activities in favor of faster but less genetically exciting self-cloning. Lichenous fungi can be grown in the lab without their partners, but these widows are malformed and sickly. Similarly, algae and bacteria from lichens can generally survive without their fungal partners, but only in a restricted range of habitats. By stripping off the bonds of individuality the lichens have produced a world-conquering union. They cover nearly ten percent of the land’s surface, especially in the treeless far north, where winter reigns for most of the year.
Lichens and the Meaning of Life – The Marginalian


Blue or purple lichens contain blue-green bacteria, the cyanobacteria. Green lichens contain algae. Fungi mix in their own colors by secreting yellow or silver sunscreen pigments. Bacteria, algae, fungi: three venerable trunks of the tree of life twining their pigmented stems.

1,000 Trees

Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto has written to Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, in order to protest the city’s Jingu Gaien redevelopment plan. Led by major real-estate developer Mitsui Fudosan in conjunction with the Meiji Shrine, the project will demolish the city’s beloved Meiji Jingu baseball stadium and chop down almost 1,000 trees, many of which are more than 100 years old.
Tuesday 21 March 2023 – Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sakamoto, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, wrote that “trees benefit everyone without discrimination but a development will only benefit those with vested interests and rich people”.


Hinckley’s Oak

Standing up here on this slope as the sun hung low in a murky sky, I tried to imagine what a woodland composed of these oaks must’ve looked like 12,000 years ago & how the climate & surrounding desert must’ve changed since then. Moments like that are one of the most addicting things to anyone interested in botany – Gaining an understanding and a knowledge of the land you live on & how all the different organisms & environmental factors in it interact is part of what seems to make a fulfilling human life. It gives us a contextual setting in which to put ourselves & our own conscience & sentience, so that this often fucked up, insane world begins to make sense.

from one my favorite blogs and easily the one with the best title: Crime Pays But Botany Doesn’t

Recycle Batteries

Europe’s ubiquitous recycling system for household batteries means virtually none get thrown away. Why doesn’t the US have something similar?
Why Europeans Recycle Their Batteries and Americans Don’t

I remember taking a box of batteries to a recycling facility in Santa Fe and learning that batteries were no longer recycled. I was told that batteries had been classified as trash and we should simply throw them away. The caveat is that, I believe, this only referred to non-lithium batteries, but how many people actually check which batteries contain lithium? Battery recycling too difficult? Just call them trash and put them in the landfill.

Why are we becoming more short sighted, not less? Is the perceived tempo of modern life?

Slime Beauty

Great macro photography gallery of slime moulds by Barry Webb. Many gorgeous images. Via Iain Claridge

Formerly classified as Fungi, Slime Moulds are no longer considered part of that group. (Wikipedia)

Here is a quote from Ways of Being, by James Bridle.

In 2018 the same slime mould, Physarum polycephalum, showed that it was able to solve the traveling salesman problem in linear time, meaning that as the problem increased in size, it kept making the most efficient decisions at every juncture. Using the same method as the Tokyo rail experiment, researchers at Lanzhou University in China placed scraps of food in the place of cities and used beams of light to keep it from repeating connections. They showed that the mould took only twice as long to solve a map of eight cities as it did to solve a map of four cities – despite there being almost a thousand times more possible routes. In short, the slime mould easily completed a task that the most powerful computers in the world – and humans – absolutely suck at.