A famous book called the Secret Life of Plants says that plants are conscious, and even have a preference for music. In one research study, plants exposed to Mozart have been shown to be healthier and grow faster than plants exposed to Jimi Hendrix. While some skeptics have said that these studies are unscientific, there is growing research on plant intelligence and plant communication.
Plants don’t have brains, so they can’t think in the same way as humans, but they can perceive their environment and even communicate this information to nearby plants.
Cabbages have been shown to perceive threats in their environment and communicate this to other nearby cabbages. Researchers in Exeter, England cut the leaves of cabbages with scissors, to provoke a defensive response. The threatened cabbages produced a toxic gas that protects it from some insects. Interestingly, the uncut cabbages nearby also began to release a toxic gas. The healthy cabbages seemed to be reacting to a warning from their injured cabbage neighbors.
Pea plants have also communicated a similar warning when threatened with drought conditions. Pea plants are known to close their pores to protect themselves during drought. Researchers in Israel watered some pea plants, but didn’t give any water to others. As they expected, the dry pea plants closed their pores, but strangely, the pea plants that had plenty of water also closed their pores. The researchers believe that the thirsty pea plants were communicating a warning of drought through their roots to their nearby neighbors.
Some plants have even been shown to communicate with sound. Of course, plants don’t have ears, but some scientists think they can perceive sound vibrations. Using sensitive microphones, Italian scientist Gagliano recorded clicking noises produced by corn seedlings. She then placed these seedlings in water and played them similar sounds. Interestingly, the corn seedlings grew towards the loudspeakers.
There is no doubt that plants are perceiving their environment and communicating this information with their plant neighbors. The question is whether or not there is an intention to communicate. Whatever the case, plants are stranger and more wonderful than we can imagine. What do you think about plant intelligence? Let us know in the comments.