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Back to Understanding Plants - Part I: What a Plant Knows

Learner Reviews & Feedback for Understanding Plants - Part I: What a Plant Knows by Tel Aviv University

1,716 ratings

About the Course

For centuries we have collectively marveled at plant diversity and form—from Charles Darwin’s early fascination with stems and flowers to Seymour Krelborn’s distorted doting in Little Shop of Horrors. This course intends to present an intriguing and scientifically valid look at how plants themselves experience the world—from the colors they see to the sensations they feel. Highlighting the latest research in genetics and more, we will delve into the inner lives of plants and draw parallels with the human senses to reveal that we have much more in common with sunflowers and oak trees than we may realize. We’ll learn how plants know up from down, how they know when a neighbor has been infested by a group of hungry beetles, and whether they appreciate the music you’ve been playing for them or if they’re just deaf to the sounds around them. We’ll explore definitions of memory and consciousness as they relate to plants in asking whether we can say that plants might even be aware of their surroundings. This highly interdisciplinary course meshes historical studies with cutting edge modern research and will be relevant to all humans who seek their place in nature. This class has three main goals: 1. To introduce you to basic plant biology by exploring plant senses (sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste, balance). 2. To introduce you to biological research and the scientific method. 3. To get the student to question life in general and what defines us as humans. Once you've taken this course, if you are interested in a more in-depth study of plants, check out my follow-up course, Fundamentals of Plant Biology ( In order to receive academic credit for this course you must successfully pass the academic exam on campus. For information on how to register for the academic exam – Additionally, you can apply to certain degrees using the grades you received on the courses. Read more on this here – Teachers interested in teaching this course in their class rooms are invited to explore our Academic High school program here –

Top reviews


Aug 14, 2021

I really liked this course, the professor was engaging, clear, and informative, and did a great job explaining and simplifying the more complex biology topics so that it was digestible for beginners.


Dec 12, 2016

Love the clarity of the instructors deliver which is supported by great explanations and most importantly visual aids & demonstrations. Ps... Especially loved the bloopers at the end. Nice treat! :)

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26 - 50 of 496 Reviews for Understanding Plants - Part I: What a Plant Knows

By Carlo

Nov 14, 2017

Great class. Professor Chamovitz is a very gifted teacher. He uses the media very well. The content is very well organized, the explanations very progressive and given at the right level of detail for an introduction. After taking this course, you will never look at your plants the same way. It's fascinating. The treatment of the philosophical questions (Do plants see? Do they remember?...) is a little weak. There are philosophers working on these issues. It would have been great if Prof. Chamovitz had invited one/some of them to take part in the course. But I'm quibbling here...

By Jan M

Jun 27, 2019

I loved this course. I think it is the perfect course for someone who wants a challenge, but does not want a totally complex course. The course was challenging, and Professor Chamowitz is the coolest fellow out. It was sometimes tough, but if you want that qualification, you'll go out and complete this course. This course has taken me six months. Thank you for the course, and my certificate. Understanding Plants offers what it promises. I am now much more understanding of our plant friends. I still don't have a green thumb though!

By Alex C

May 27, 2020

excellent course! The presenter was engaging and clear and the content was of a very high standard. Not too easy and not too difficult. I confess to watching most of them with my gardening wife and arguing lots about the content and questions! I was also fun and enjoyable. Taken purely to broaden my knowledge and interest. During the virus we had a lot of free time and started growing lots of plants on the balcony and it was therefore very interesting for me :-)

Thank you for making this course and i will do the next!

By Vitória P d S

Apr 15, 2021

O professor é sensacional!! Ele explica de forma muito clara, sucinta e acessível á todos e todas!! O curso me proporcionou um amplo conhecimento sobre esse universo das plantas. Acabei por descobrir que gosto muito dessa área e já penso em fazer alguma iniciação científica sobre algum assunto relacionado às plantas, pois realmente gostei demais!! A plataforma foi incrível também, me auxiliou bastante em como utilizar as ferramentas para o melhor aproveitamento do curso e para os testes a serem feitos!

By Kashika L K

Oct 10, 2020

Professor Daniel Chamovitz is one of the best teacher i ever had. So i want to thank coursera for providing this course. I am a M.Sc Botany student. I joined this course to add the certificate in my CV. but after taking this course professor Daniel taught me so much that the certificate does not even matter to me. I am really really thankful that coursera is providing such courses for students. and one last thing i want to say to Prof Daniel is that ,I have no words how much you have taught me.

By Sara R

May 14, 2018

I had a great time following this course. The lecturer really makes plant understanding fun and (relatively) easy. Great lessons with many practical explanations, lots of experiments and science history.

I am a biotechnologist working in molecular biology and my studies were mostly focused on humans / mammals. I currently work on plants and wanted to deepen my knowledge of the basis of plant physiology. This course was a great introduction to plants!

Highly recommended.

By Christine

Dec 11, 2016

After having seen "American Pie" , I don't see apple pie in the same way.

After following this training, Ii don't see apple tree in the same way !

More seriously,Ii'd like to thank you very much for this training which was both very interesting and understandable by majority of us.

The videos are very clear and, actually, you're not boring (;-))!

Thanks to Nir, as well.

I 've appreciated the mix of simple experiment results and theoretical explanation behind.

By Marwan E I

Mar 16, 2018

This is an enjoyable, interesting, eye opening course, yet it is not an easy one to pass. I have not done much biology before, and some of the terminology and processes described were a little demanding. I had to go through the lectures more than once. Professor Daniel Chamovitz is interesting to listen to. You do not go to sleep! I wish he would offer a third course on Coursera soon. Thank you professor for the knowledge you were so generous to provide.

By Max

Jun 18, 2021

This is one of the best courses I have ever taken. Professor Chamovitz is such a passionate person that drives you not only to understanding the course material but to make you think about plants as very complex organisms. The commitment to the principles of science is very remarkable as well. The research that Professor Chamovitz is doing on food security seems so interesting as this area is crucial amidst future climate change-related issues.

By Zvi Z D C

Jul 10, 2017

This is a wonderful course! There are minor problems in transcripts and in language usage. The course is very informative, the professor is very knowledgeable, light, and gives out the information in a delightful way, making the learning process fun fun fun! I am already heading to his next course, Fundamentals of plant biology! If the course seems interesting to you, you have to take it, i am telling you, you do, you will enjoy every bit of it!

By Helen H

Nov 17, 2020

The lecturer is very enthusiastic and engaging. There is a lot of information presented quite quickly, so if you are a beginner in biology (like me!), you will probably need to do the reading in addition to watching the videos. It was really interesting to see round the lab in the final lecture. I'm not sure how much of the detail I will retain in a few weeks, but I think I have enough of the gist to have gained a new respect for plants!

By Alison C

Feb 22, 2018

I really enjoyed this and learnt a lot. I'm a zoologist currently studying botanical illustration, so this course was a great way to brush up on my botany. I read Prof Chamovitz' book a couple of years ago and liked his style, and this course is similar - very engaging but thorough. Some of the tests, especially the last one, are quite tough but I think that is a good thing, you have to pay attention to the material if you want to pass.

By Miland K K

Aug 11, 2020

Extremely well designed course that gives amazing insights into the sensory prowess of plants. The beauty of this course is that no biology background is required. The concepts and terms have been explained with awesome examples and that foster easy understanding. Prof. Daniel Chamovitz is simply mesmerizing and keeps you gripped to your chair during the entire lecture. One of the good decisions of my life is that I chose this course.

By Stella G

May 18, 2020

Now that I know how sensitive plants are, I'll watch my language when in their presence :)

I work with plants in a retail setting, and this course helps me to understand the plant 'behaviors' that I observe, especially in response to my care.

I think I already guessed what a plant knows; now I know why.

This course provides a great understanding of plants for the layperson/non-academic.

I enjoyed the instructors lecture delivery.

By Andrei M d S

Sep 9, 2019

The content included is exactly as described. The professor is just the right amount of playful, and makes sure to repeat and explain the more complicated parts. Video lectures include images to help visualise and clarify what is being talked about. There is only one personal thing I am not a fan of, but that one thing is still not enough to justify a less than 5-star rating for such a clear course. Plants deserve more credit.

By Melanie F

May 6, 2017

I actually loved the course and the teacher was great but the final quiz made me want to throw my computer at the wall a bit and cancenl my university application. I do not like 'trick' questions. Where there are more than one answer that is scientifically correct but the question is only referring to one scientists discovery. I dont really care who discovered what, no offense Darwin. I just want the scientific facts

By Janice R

Oct 18, 2020

Thank you, Dr. Chamovitz for making this course interesting! Most students get bored when lectures are about plants or plant biology, but you made boring and complex concepts easy to understand and enjoyable to learn. I especially liked the examples and experiments presented (with very excellent illustrations as well). Your quizzes are tricky and a tad difficult, but they really test the student's understanding.

By Eleanor R W

Jul 19, 2017

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to take this wonderful course. It was laid out in a really interesting way; i very much enjoyed the focus on how plant senses were discovered - I never knew how prolific Darwin was in plant biology!

Awesome course, thank you for giving me access to it (and a certificate) for free. As soon as I get some more free time I hope to take the next course in the series.

By Ana V C A

Mar 11, 2021

In this course I learned a lot of plant behaviour and biology. I liked the most that professor Chamovitz not only explains concepts but also the questions that stimulated the study of plants, the experiments designed, the analysis and the conclusions leaded from them. It was also very enjoyable and with many materials which complemented the videos. I understand and love plants (even more) now!

By Joakim N

Aug 8, 2019

In my case where im currently changing proffesion from a programmer into plants generally speaking, i find this easy to understand with short and consise lectures where only the important things are discussed. Professor Chamovitz doesn't randomly dive on a specific topic, which would cause confusion. I rarely comment on videos and courses but this one deserves all credit it can get.

By Daniel P

Aug 23, 2020

Awesome course for two reasons:

1.) The contributors of this course made a lot of effort to make the topic as interesting as possible (e.g. a tour through their own lab, cool examples to illustrate theory, (external) videos of plant growth,...).

2.) The course gives you a better idea of the complexity of plants which encourages to appreciate and protect nature.

By Lucky S

Jul 10, 2021

Best learning experience and course provide almost everything those helpful for my career growth Understanding plants one of the best course to understand about plants with simplest way and teachers are good and their teaching way almost simple and good and easy to understand .

one of the best experience to study about plants with the help of this course .

By Nathan N I

Jan 23, 2021

As an introduction to botany this was a fun and informative course. I've watched you tube videos which briefly talk about the ability of plants to see, hear, memorize and balance themselves. but this course goes into the molecular mechanics. As someone who has done microbiology. this course allows me to go back to basics of my microbiology in general.

By mijiturka

Jan 3, 2021

The instructor loves the course area and is likely to be able to get you to love it too. He is able to explain complicated concepts in context, even to beginners, and he does it with passion. I've come back to this course and the book many times for what has now been years. I am hooked on how plants interact with their environment, probably for life.

By S C

Mar 27, 2019

I really love the class. It taught me so much things about the plants surrounding us. It's like filling the hole of the terrible science education at my home town where most people could mix up spores and deadly insects and then throw their beautiful ferns into the rubbish bins. I wish my home town could also have a wonderful science class like this.