Plantomatic Image:
Home » A Christmas Trilogy, Part 2: From Christmas Past to Christmas present…

A Christmas Trilogy, Part 2: From Christmas Past to Christmas present…

Still wondering what to get the phytologist who has everything? Well, for botanists on the move (you know the ones, always jetting off to conferences and never having the time to look after their house plants…), this year’s absolutely fantabulosa ‘must have’ present is the ‘botanics on the move’ Plantomatic.

Plantomatic Image:
Plantomatic Image:

The Plantomatic was showcased in 2011 at the 11thannual British Invention Show. Its premise is simple enough: it’s a self-propelled, wheeled plant-pot holder that detects light levels with light-sensitive solar panels (is there any other kind…?) and moves the potted plant to the sunniest position, whether indoors or outside (not that it opens doors to move between in- and outside…). Apparently, it was originally displayed in 2007 by Pep Torres (of Barcelona’s iconic Museum of Ideas and Inventions fame). So, its movement towards full commercial exploitation is a lot slower than its own ‘phototaxis’. However, the Plantomatic sounds rather similar to Plantbot (‘solar seeking botanical augmentation’) from the Play Coalition, a business that develops ‘products that toy with social quirks, lend a light touch to weighty issues and explore the poetry of playfulness’.

Plantbot Image: The Play Coalitio
Plantbot Image: The Play Coalition

Plantbot is described as ‘a plant pot with the ability to seek out sunlight as it moves and changes over the day; ensuring optimum sunlight for indoor plants’. Although this is presumably a commercial product I couldn’t find a price for it on the Play Coalition website. Which makes me wonder if it is akin to one of the famous US financier’s J. P. Morgan’s yachts, along the lines of, ‘If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it’. What will they think of next? Plants that actually move towards the light? Science fiction? Well, no, not exactly, because that’s sort of what plants do… it’s called phototropism, or phototaxis, or heliotropism… Art irritating life (again!).

Botonist’s Suitcase Image: The Parents’ Directory, London
Botonist’s Suitcase Image: The Parents’ Directory, London

Finally – and with a known price tag – is this ‘Gorgeous gift box for nature enthusiasts including flower press and magnifying glass. 3yrs+’, otherwise known as the Botonist’s [sic.] Suitcase. A mere snip at £52, who could resist? Is there a budding ‘botonist’ in your life who deserves just a little bit of encouragement? What better way to show you care? Go on, flash that cash! You know s/he’s worth it! For those of you – like me – offended by that incorrect spelling, reassuringly the term is correctly spelt at Cottontails Baby site from where the ‘Moulin Roty botanist suitcase’ can be gift-wrapped for an extra £3, although – and despite its French label – it is unsuitable for delivery outside of the UK. What! A suitcase that doesn’t travel? You couldn’t make it up!

Moulin Roty botanist suitcase Image: Moulin Roty
Moulin Roty botanist suitcase Image: Moulin Roty

But, if you’re only interested in the suitcase’s flower press, that is available separately at only £14.50…

[Unfortunately, neither the Plantomatic nor the Plantbot will overcome the problem of forgetting to water your beloved houseplants. If that’s still a worry for your peripatetic phytologic chum, consider getting him/her a ‘resurrection plant’ – Ed.]


Tune in again soon for Part 3: … And a Peak at Christmas Still to Come?

Nigel Chaffey

I am a Botanist and former Senior Lecturer in Botany at Bath Spa University (Bath, near Bristol, UK). As News Editor for the Annals of Botany I contributed the monthly Plant Cuttings column to that international plant science journal for almost 10 years. As a freelance plant science communicator I continue to share my Cuttingsesque items - and appraisals of books with a plant focus - with a plant-curious audience at Plant Cuttings [] (and formerly at Botany One []). In that guise my main goal is to inform (hopefully, in an educational, and entertaining way) others about plants and plant-people interactions, and thereby improve humankind's botanical literacy. I'm happy to be contacted to discuss potential writing - or talking - projects and opportunities.
[ORCID: 0000-0002-4231-9082]

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