The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: The 300 Million Years War

In the 2009 Royal Institution Lectures, Professor Sue Hartley of Sussex University shows you plants as you’ve never seen them before.

5 x 60 minutes for More4, Channel 4 and the Royal Institution

Plants as you've never seen them before!

Presented by Professor Sue Hartley, Professor of Ecology at Sussex University, only the fourth woman to take on this prestigious task in over 180 years.

In the lectures, which are aimed at 11 to 18 year olds, Prof Sue Hartley shows you plants as you’ve never seen them before.

Plants might seem passive, defenceless and almost helpless. But they are most definitely not! Thanks to a war with animals that’s lasted over 300 million years, they’ve developed many terrifying and devious ways to defend themselves and attack their enemies. Vicious poisons, lethal materials and even cunning means of communicating with unlikely allies are just some of the weapons in their armoury. Using these and other tactics, plants have seen off everything from dinosaurs to caterpillars.

They are complicated, cunning, beautiful and with plenty of tricks up their sleeve. And what’s more, we humans are dependent on them in ways you’d never imagine. As well as much of our food, our drugs, medicines and materials are all by-products of this epic 300 million year war.

Sales & Licensing

For further information about these programmes, please contact the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 21 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BS

Tel: +44 (0)20 7409 2992
Fax: +44 (0)20 7670 2920


  • The RI Lectures were beautifully delivered, wonderfully interactive and incredibly informative, even for a professional science writer.
  • The Royal Institution’s Christmas Lectures almost make the festive season bearable.

    The Guardian