Can plants talk to each other? It certainly doesn’t seem that way: They don’t have complex sensory or nervous systems, like animals do, and they look pretty passive. Perhaps plants hunt, scream, share and nurture their young, just like members of the animal kingdom. In a study performed by the Royal Horticultural Society, researchers discovered that talking to your plants really can help them grow faster. They also found that plants grow faster to the sound of a female voice than to the sound of a male voice. But what do plants talk about?

Unlike their human counterparts, it is unlikely to be gossip, lies and complicity. We just need to understand their language. Research indicates, they communicate with each other and their environment, in fact research has shown that roots systems actively search for food, we can watch a plant tilt toward the sun, and we have seen that certain plants have the ability to “sniff” out the food based on particular strong odors being emitted from the food source. Plants release this scent as a chemical SOS when a plant faces danger or injury. And it may be, that plants have a social “norm or rules” that govern growth, and just like humans they have those who care nothing about rules and norms, they do what they please, when they please and others are steamrolled over at all cost – we know those plants as Invasive species.

Such territorial battles have real-world consequences. For example, spotted knapweed has invaded livestock grazing land in Montana, causing havoc for ranchers and farmers. However, science has also discovered and “counter – punch”, a strain of wild lupin can launch a chemical counterattack that not only protects it from knapweed, but altruistically shields neighboring plants. Plants appear to recognize their kin and are more protective of relatives as compared to non-related members of the same species. An experiment conducted in a Douglas fir forest shows that plants not only share resources, they are more likely to direct them toward their offspring. It’s convincing evidence that nurturing may not be limited to the animal kingdom.


Garden Plants and Conversations
Conversations in the Garden. Does your lawn talk?

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