I'm bored. So I thought I'd start a discussion on here.
The topic of plants has not been specifically discussed in the elemental forum yet (that I have seen), but plants have been mentioned in regard to earth. When I think of earth as an element, I think of the ground and its solidity, associated with rocks, minerals, and soil. (I use the color brown to represent earth.) IMHO, the idea that plants are included in the element of earth is a misconception. Plants are alive, unlike the elements. (Even if you believe that the elements are alive in their own way, it still is on a different level than plants are.) Plants are part of the kingdom Plantae. We don't have a specific element associated with Animalia, or Monera, or any of the other kingdom of life; why should plants be any different? Plants need water, air, and sunlight in order to survive, not just soil. Therefore, they are connected to all the elements, just as we humans are.
This is not to say that plants cannot be used as representations of earth. Seashells and sand dollars are common representations of water, feathers are good representations of air, etc. These objects represent their corresponding elements because the animals they come from are very connected to the sea (water) and sky (air). However, in my opinion, a bowl of dirt and some rocks make much better representations of solid, immovable strength, that is earth (in my mid at least) than plants do. They have two totally different vibes that should just be lumped together. Well, actually, now that I think about it, using a root from a plant is actually not a bad idea, because of the specific association the roots have to "drawing energy from earth."
Also, plants do in fact offer a connection to the Earth (capital letter) as a planet. I'm not saying that they don't, or that plants aren't important. However, I think that the element of earth (lowercase letter) has a meaning that is more specific than our planet as a whole. (The planet Earth is not associated with one single element, despite sharing a name with the element of earth).
That is my take on the subject, but I would be interested to hear what others have to say. Do you think of earth (in the context of the four elements) as rock/ground/etc, as plants, or as both? What color is earth associated with in your mind or tradition? Etc, etc...