Do you ever have the feeling that you aren’t alone? Or that some shady characters are holed up in the van parked across the street monitoring your conversations? Well, as it turns out, the plants on your desk may well be listening to you too. They might even be talking about you and your co-workers to their other desk-plant friends right now!
Normally, the idea of talking plants would be reserved in the realms of science-fiction and fantasy – I’m thinking of those walking, talking Ents in The Lord Of The Rings – but scientists have discovered that plants may actually communicate with each other.
“Everyone knows that plants react to light, and scientists also know that plants use volatile chemicals to communicate with each other, for instance, when danger – such as a herbivore – approaches,” said Dr. Monica Gagliano from the University of Western Australia.
“I was working one day in my herb garden and started to wonder if maybe plants were also sensitive to sounds – why not? – so I decided as a scientist to find out.”
It is well known that cabbage plants, for example, emit a toxic gas called methyl jasmonate in order to warn other cabbages of predators in the vicinity. The warning sends a signal to other growing cabbages to produce toxins on their leaves to prevent caterpillars eating them.
But after extensive research done by Gagliano and scientists at Bristol University, England on corn plants, it was found that the organisms communicated with each other via clicking noises in their roots.
In order to test this further, they placed the growing corn plants in water and played a continuous noise at the same frequency as the clicking noises (220Hz).
The outcome was that all the corn plants gradually drifted over to the source of the sound through the water, suggesting that plants can not only hear things, but respond to them as well.
It’s unclear as to how much importance sound plays in the life and development of plant life- do they respond better to the harmonious arrangements of Beethoven, or the root-stomping, leaf-banging sounds of Metallica? – but what we can gather from this discovery is that perhaps gardeners should treat their plants less like an object, but more a living, breathing, sensitive organism.
So take note of which way your desk plant leans towards, it may give you a clue as to what sound it prefers hearing – your voice or your colleagues!
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What do you think about plants communicating? Share your thoughts below in the comments!
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