PRIVACY AND TALKING PLANTS

What did you say?
What did you say?

Worried about privacy?
If you have plants in your home, they may listen to everything you say and talk to each other about you.
When my friend told me she talks to her plants when she comes home from vacation or when they are not thriving and they respond, I thought she was very odd.
I found out recently that she wasn’t so far off the mark. When I happened to see an article about talking plants, I then found a number of scientists now believe plants, do indeed, talk to each other, listen and warn fellow botanicals nearby of impending danger. Here are just a few investigations on the subject:
Two studies in the 1980s reported willow trees, poplars and maples can warn each other of an impending attack by insects. At first scientists believed the idea was ludicrous. Then more than 40 studies followed and confirmed that when bugs chew leaves of a tree that tree sends out volatile warning signals to nearby trees to start dispensing self-produced pesticides to ward off attacks.
Tim Wall wrote an article for Discovery.com about plants talking to each other by vibrations.  He described how University of Western Australia researchers planted pepper seeds next to basil and the pepper seeds flourished. Even when a plastic sheet separated the pepper seeds from the basil, the pepper seeds still responded to basil seeds. When the pepper seeds were planted by themselves, they did not do as well than when they had their neighboring basil.

“Our results show that plants are able to positively influence growth of seeds by some, as yet, unknown mechanism, Dr. Monica Gagliano, the lead researcher said. “Bad neighbors such as fennel, prevented chili seeds from thriving … we believe that the answer may involve acoustic signal generated using nano-mechanical oscillations from inside the cell which allow rapid communication between nearby plants.”( In other words, the seeds talk to each other by shaking out extremely minute particles).

Can plants talk through spider-like fungi networks?
Researchers from the University of Aberdeen, James Hudson Institute, and Rothamsted Research, all in the United Kingdom, think so. They found plants may communicate through a thread like network of fungi, mycorrhizae.

The team grew broadleaf plants—some were exposed to the fungi network, some were protected from the mycorrhizae by plastic bags to prevent airborne chemicals from reaching them and some were unprotected. When enemy aphids infested a single plant, those unconnected by the mycorrhizae networks, including the bag-covered ones, seemed to be “deaf” to the danger. They were attacked by the aphids. Those connected to the fungi  network where unfazed. They had responded to the warning.

The British researchers theorize the mycorrhizae fungi get something beneficial from the broadleaf plants and thus protect them.

Dr. Gagliano also decided to test the” listening” ability of plants when she played music while working in her green house. She thought she saw the plants responding to the songs.

In the journal of Trends in Plant Science, Dr. Gagliano and her group in Australia reported they, found plants do respond to music. Through a series of experiments, they determined the roots of corn plants made clicking noises. When the roots were suspended in water, the roots leaned towards the sound that was emitted at about–220hz—the same frequency corn roots themselves emitted.
While investigating talking plants may seem inane, it could lead to better crops and less pesticide use.

In the meantime, be careful what you say around the house—your plants may be listening.

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