Can plants communicate? (Smithsonian.com)
Can plants communicate?
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You asked us, can plants communicate? Well, not too long ago if you answered yes to that question most people would think you were crazy.

But growing evidence suggests that plants can actually communicate. And, in more ways than one. You see, plants don't have mouths, eyes or ears. But they apparently see, feel and smell. They may also possibly hear signals from other plants.

That sweet summer smell of freshly cut grass is actually a blast of chemical signals. They are sent out by the injured grass, a warning to let other nearby plants know to go on the defensive.

Why would a plant want to give its competitors a heads up? What could the possible evolutionary benefit be? Well, some scientists think that plants aren't actually talking to each other. Rather, they are talking to themselves, while their nosy neighbors take advantage of the situation and eavesdrop.

At this point, there are more questions than answers, I admit. It's becoming clear though, that communication isn't limited to just animals like ourselves. Plants have a lot to say, too.

For more stories like this, check us out every day at smithsonian.com.

Critical thinking challenge: What has happened that changed some people's minds about whether plants can communicate?


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COMMENTS (27)
  • John0724-YYCA
    4/22/2015 - 07:33 p.m.

    That is so cool that plants can communicate which I thought plants were just consumers and are nothing else but the fresh smell of cut grass is actually a blast of chemical signals so they know what is coming in there way. I did really thought that people who are mostly nerds say that plants can communicate were crazy but I was wrong after reading this article. It would have been better if plants had mouths so we know what they are saying which would also be useful for biologists. I really do wonder that how people or should I say scientist finds all these evidence. Critical thinking challenge: What has happened that changed some people's minds about whether plants can communicate? Answer: If they read the article than they know that plants can communicate and some people who doesn't know this they do not know.

  • Tiffany0307-yyca
    4/22/2015 - 08:38 p.m.

    I think plants communicating is very cool. But it looks almost impossible whether to know if they are communicating or not. The way they communicate, or rather talk to themselves actually, is kind of common though. But it is amazing to find out that just a blade of grass can be some kind of signal, or warning flash, or a significant announcement or statement, and it might just be some other different kind of communication. I think plants communicating is kind of impossible to know about (unless you are some kind of master or a rocket science expert or something like that. I wonder if plants can communicate by another way instead of just a blade of grass. Overall, I wish people would know how plants can really communicate to each other very specifically.

  • william1108-yyca
    4/22/2015 - 09:45 p.m.

    I think like it feels sort of weird. I still don't get how plants communicate. They said that plants don't have ears but how can they hear. I smelled the scent they talked about. But it would sort of be cool to actually see plants talk. I think the people think that plants talk are crazy. Its crazy because plants don't have mouths. So I actually would would want to see plants talk or communicate but I still wonder If plant's can still communicate when they are dead. Well I guess I'll have to figure it out my self so I really want to see plats communicate.

  • AvaP-4
    4/24/2015 - 12:59 a.m.

    If you were to tell someone plants could communicate, most would think you're crazy. Although you sound crazy, you're actually correct. Plants cannot communicate my using their mouths and listening to other's conversations, for they don't have ears or mouths. However, it's believed that they can smell and feel. When someone can smell flowers or grass on a nice day, that's not because of the fact of just its presence, but that the plant is releasing chemical signals into the air. I think it's very interesting that not only animals and humans can communicate in someway,but that plants can as well.

  • VanessaC-3
    4/25/2015 - 02:42 p.m.

    How can plants communicate other than sharing or communicating with each other it being a relationship between two flowers. As it can make a weird situation of how we can see plants communicating during this hour. As it being how can plants communicate it being a good question. It makes it worth questions of asking and asking by making so mysterious and odd. To make my opinion try to find out how can plants communicate and its not like they talk maybe they just move from the breeze and they don't move by themselves.

  • MarisaG-Kut
    4/26/2015 - 11:05 a.m.

    I think its very cool that plants can communicate to themselves. I have always thought their just plants that have nothing special. I guess i was really wrong. When I first saw this article i was like their crazy to think that plants can actually communicate guess i was the crazy one.

  • CamilaValenzuela
    4/26/2015 - 09:03 p.m.

    This article talk about that the plants can communicate, in more ways than one. It's incredible, because they apparently can see, feel and smell, they can communicate get cross of chemical signals. When that sweet smell of freshly cut grass is a chemical signal. I think this is cool, my grandmother told me years ago that the plants can listen. I think that is important know this, if they can feel, see and smell, they deserve more respect, they are so beautiful.

  • CamilaValenzuela
    4/26/2015 - 09:11 p.m.

    This article talk about that plants can communicate, they can feel, smell, see, in more ways than one, they can communicate get cross chemical signals. When that sweet smell of freshly cut grass, is kind of chemical signals. I think this is cool, I remember that my grandmother told me years ago that the plants can listen, so I think is important know this, because if they can feel, see... they deserve more respect, and they are so beautiful.

  • Meganp-Cla
    4/27/2015 - 08:56 p.m.

    that is really cool that plants can communicate since they can't see or have a mouth . I never knew that plants use sweet summer smell of freshly cut grass as a blast of chemical signals. It is really a cool story and how plants communitcate with other animals

  • HannahB-Kut
    4/27/2015 - 10:09 p.m.

    this is very interesting i would most likely do further research on this. i have some questions though- do some plants communicate better than other species of plants? do some other type pf plant communicate differently than another plant? do some plants communicate more frequently than others?? once again i would really like to do further research in this topic, its very very interesting.

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