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May 02, 2009



Plants are capable of sensing light, sound, air, moisture, nutrients, gravity, and respond to such. Sensing is feeling. They can feel what's good for them, so it follows they can feel bad.



Plant neurobiology: an integrated view of plant signaling.Brenner ED, Stahlberg R, Mancuso S, Vivanco J, Baluska F, Van Volkenburgh E.
Genomics, New York Botanical Garden, NY 10458, USA.

Plant neurobiology is a newly focused field of plant biology research that aims to understand how plants process the information they obtain from their environment to develop, prosper and reproduce optimally. The behavior plants exhibit is coordinated across the whole organism by some form of integrated signaling, communication and response system. This system includes long-distance electrical signals, vesicle-mediated transport of auxin in specialized vascular tissues, and production of chemicals known to be neuronal in animals. Here we review how plant neurobiology is being directed toward discovering the mechanisms of signaling in whole plants, as well as among plants and their neighbors.


Fruits and flowers are designed to look, smell, and taste good to attract animals to further the plant's reproduction. In many cases, they are designed to attract specific animals. Which indicates that not only are they aware of the animals around them, but they know what looks, smells and tastes good to them.

They also develop defenses against harmful animals (smells, tastes, appearances, poison sap, thorns, bark and shells). So even without a brain, plants are smarter than most drivers on the Garden State Parkway.


Many plants are sensitive to touch, which is closely related to hearing. Motion plants like the Mimosa and Telegraph plant respond to both touch and vibrations in the air.

touched mimosa

telegraph plant sound response


There are some really intriguing links above- nice one gang.

*sigh* My plants are definitely sensitive to the cycles of Moondog.


See, this is where this blog comes into its own and what makes me look forward to writing something new every Saturday. I look into something and think "Ok... interesting...", pitch it out there and then you all come back with lots of additional information and experiences that blow me away. And I learn more.

I started off wondering about plants feeling stuff and wrote the article which sort of moved me off the fence a little bit, and now with the extra information I'm thinking that maybe there is something more to this.

Which means I've been interacting with my plants more. :)


I was hoping someone would dig up that classic photo, "Plant Exposed to Classical Music" vs "Plant Exposed to Rock and/or Roll".

We had this plant in me childhoodlum that grew down the park that would curl up if you touched it or yelled hard enough. Totally whimsical piece of plant that.


Me too. I hadn't really thought about it, but the explaination proffered by GG seems pretty spot on. That is to say, when plants are exposed to a lot of wind and are shaken, it tends to stunt their growth. Now your average R&R bass player aims to make trouser legs flap, and usually achieves that goal, so you can see why the milder music is tolerated by the plants and the heavy bass music isn't.

Happens I was at a big nursery sale yesterday, some 50 - 75 local nuseries attending. Lot's of fun, and wouldn't you know one dealer was specializing in carnivorous plants! All the usual suspects, including the infamous Venus Fly Trap. As it turns out, the trigger hairs use calcium ions to carry the action potential generated by tickling them to the "muscle" portions of the plant. Mammals usually use sodium and potassium, although muscles such as the heart use calcium. But you have a rudimentary but complete nervous system here, which can even differentiate between prey and a water drop.


It makes sense. Environmental sounds and touches would indicate potentially threatening motion (rain, wind, birds, insects). Plants prefer to be planted, rooted, quiet and still.


K - so, carnivorous plants do the whole gulp thing? I had no idea. That's sort of fascinating and creepy in equal measures.


Like many on the modern western diet, the plant has a heart attack and wakes up with a tray full of food.

As a vegetarian I am totally fascinated with carnivorous plants.


P.S- I should have the results of one of the worst experiments designed in a week: Testing the speed of seed germination hooked up to a solar tone-oscillator, which has decided to sing up at mabe C3 on the piano.

Tiger Turf

The study from Mi-Jeong Jeong is interesting but just because they can respond to sound doesn't mean that they are sentient. It is more likely to be a reflex reaction.

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