Sir David Attenborough is going green. Very green.
Legendary English broadcaster, biologist, natural historian and author, aged 96, travels the world in BBC Earth’s latest historical series, the green planetto explore Earth’s biodiversity and the secret life of plants.
Filmed in 27 countries over four years, the five-part documentary marks the first time Attenborough has returned to film the world of plants since his 1995 series, The private life of plants.
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the green planet it even includes stops in Canada, where you get a closer look at maple trees waking up from hibernation and lodgepole pine trees being attacked by mountain pine beetles.
Attenborough shared his thoughts on the series with Global News, describing some of the most amazing plants featured on the show.
Can you tell us a bit about the filming of this new BBC Earth series? the green planet?
David Attenborough: In a sense, the series itself is slow-growing, like plants. we start [filming] a long time ago, before COVID. And then I would run around interesting places, in California and so forth, in a way that hasn’t been possible in the last two years. So I show up in all these different parts of the world quite often, more than anyone else. [series]for some time.
In your travels through the series, you interacted with many plants. Is there a plant that has really stuck in your mind?
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One of the really great and deeply moving experiences was going to the giant sequoias in California, these huge trees. It is no coincidence that there is a feeling of a cathedral when you go among them. They are huge things, some of the tallest are huge. But what this show did was use another of the inventions that you might think have very little to do with plants, technical inventions, that changed natural history photography in the last 10 or 20 years: drones. When you see the final sequence in the programs and [the camera] suddenly rises above the treetops. and you see these giants. It’s a wonderful sequence.
I heard that you had a very scary encounter with a cactus during filming, right?
Yes! The cholla really is a physical hazard. There are very dense spines in rosettes, so they point in all directions. And if you just brush against it, the thorns are like glass spicules, I mean they’re so sharp and they go right into you and you really have trouble getting them out! So that’s a really dangerous plant.
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Can you tell us about the water lilies in Pantanal, Brazil?
Water lilies are extremely aggressive. And their battlefield is the surface of the lake and the surface of the water, so it is a very close battle. The giant water lily, which produces leaves that can support a small baby, has a sprouting bud laden with thorns. And it comes to the surface and starts to expand, with these spikes pushing everything else out of the way. And in the end, the lake ends up just like giant water lilies crashing into each other, with no room for anything else. It is one of the most aggressive plants that build empires. Everybody says how wonderful it is, but nobody says how killer it is.
Anyone out for a walk will likely see more plants than animals, so why do you think people haven’t engaged with plants as much as they have with animals?
Because apparently they just sit there being a plant. You could take them or leave them or you could dig them up or toss them aside. They don’t react, they don’t resent it, they just die. We don’t get involved enough with plants.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
‘The Green Planet’ premieres Wednesday, July 6 at 9pm ET/PT exclusively on BBC Earth and on the BBC Earth Prime Video channel in Canada.
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