# How much energy would be needed for a sentient plant species

Let’s say humanity is a type 1 civilization, ( essentially a civilization that can control there entire planet and harness its energy ), now let’s also say humanity wants to make an intelligent species that we essentially require to survive, plants.

I do know that the main problems that a intelligent plant species face is energy, movement, communication, and basically what everything else. But I want to focus on energy. A brain allows animals to think and be sapient, but it also allows for the formation of questions and the ability to do complicated task, which means that a brain will require a massive amount of energy.

So, I’m going to start of by saying that I’m going to use the sentient quotient, which is one of the ways to quantity sentience. The sentience quotient ranges from -70 to +50, currently plants lay around -2, but carnivorous plants, such as the Venus fly trap lay around a +1, now, I want the plants to at least reach a +13, which all animals are at roughly located around that point, including humans.

I’m going to use Venus fly traps because they are at least slightly ahead of normal plants. Which leads me into my question.

how much energy would be required to help a plant, “ the Venus fly trap”, to gain sentience?

Also, this second question isn’t necessary but, how could we go about giving said energy to said plant

Edit: here is the link to the “could a plant develop intelligence” question, the first answer talks about the sentient quotient Could plants develop intelligence?

• Is the sentient quotient something you came up with? If not, do you mind referencing some source where folks like me can get more info?
– L.Dutch
Mar 17, 2020 at 8:44
• Their is a question that asks “ could plants develop intelligence”. The excepted answer talks much more about the sentient quotient Mar 17, 2020 at 8:47
• @RotNDecay put a link to the “could plants develop intelligence” one into your question Mar 17, 2020 at 10:54
• 'Sentient quotient' just seems like a crude-ish way of calculating information density with no context. That is to say, it's a logarithmic measurement of information processing rate (in bits) over the subject's brain mass. This seems to be a wrong measurement because you can achieve a +13 on plants just by condensing the currently existing neural framework. Mar 17, 2020 at 15:09

I've tried to answer your question by going into how much energy it would take for a plant to power an animal brain, the rest could be extrapolated from there.

Brain energy consumption

Firstly, how much energy do brains consume? The human central nervous system (CNS) consumes 20% of the daily energy consumption. For a human male this would be 11000kJ*0.2= 2200kJ.(1) But depending on your definition of sentience, maybe less energy is required. Most animals use between 5-10% of their total energy consumption for their CNS. Now, most of that energy is actually used to make the body move, and to process all the sensory information from the sensory neurons. That's why brain size is not a good measure of intelligence, because larger bodies just need larger brains.

To get closer to the venus fly trap size, let's calculate the energy consumption of a mouse brain. A mouse uses 8% of their total energy consumption on its brain (1), which is about 50 kJ*0.08= 4 kJ/day (2).

Plant energy production

Now, how much energy do plants capture? Plants get most of their energy from the sun. The amount of solar energy hitting the surface of the earth, and so also the plants, is about 22 MJ/m2 (3). Plants capture about 5% of this energy (4), which makes it 1.1 mJ/m2. A venus fly trap is a small plant, comparable to an arabidopsis plant. A Col-0 arabidopsis plant of 60 days old has a total leaf surface area of 0.015 m2. This brings us to 16.5 kJ/day.

For comparison, a eucalyptus tree has a leaf area of up to 1.6m2, which makes the energy capture ca. 35000 kJ/day (5). Enough to power a human brain.

This means that a venus fly trap likely captures enough energy to power a mouse-sized brain. Of course, it also needs to support its body and grow, but a slightly higher leaf area should account for that.

• The best thing about this answer in context, is that it gives the questioner a point-of-referrence from which to start thinking about formulating a better question. (From review). +1 Apr 27, 2020 at 9:04