Can plants communicate? (Smithsonian.com)
Can plants communicate?
Lexile

You asked us, can plants communicate and 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, smell and possibly even hear signals from other plants.

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

But 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 but to themselves, while their nosy neighbors take advantage of the situation and eavesdrop.

At this point, there are more questions than answers, I admit, but it's becoming clear 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?


Assigned 32 times


COMMENTS (25)
  • noahd-Goo
    4/22/2015 - 09:30 a.m.

    Plants can see,feel, and smell, possibly even communicate. The text states that when we mow our grass, and there is that smell. That that is grass sending a chemical signal to other plant telling them to defend themselves. The text also states that the plants are talking to themselves , but the other plants eavesdrop. The evidence from the text suggests that plant can communicate more than one way.

  • jarredc-Koc
    4/22/2015 - 03:43 p.m.

    Since the dawn of man, communication has been the only true important trait all animals can share in. Though we are not the only ones who can communicate it seems. Now we know that the creatures of the Earth have their own way of communicating. How will this develop in the next centuries? Will the trees we walk under soon be walking with us?

  • ryleen-Fit
    4/22/2015 - 08:16 p.m.

    I think that it's really amazing how plants have learned to communicate. Even though they have no eyes, mouth, or nose, they have learned to do other things to communicate. They release chemicals to give signals. This is adaption at it's finest. The fact that an organism with no means of movement or thought is capable of communication is incredible.

    • bradleys-war
      4/24/2015 - 01:41 p.m.

      I think its really cool that plants can communicate because maybe certain plants need to hear different things so the can hear better like maybe music would help them grow faster and stronger

  • Joni-Pav
    4/23/2015 - 09:56 a.m.

    Once plants are able to communicate they are going to take over Earth and if its already happening then that just means its the beginning.

  • Catherineh-Pav
    4/23/2015 - 10:11 a.m.

    I think that it is pretty cool to have plants can communicate in their own special ways. Every living creature has their own way of communicating with each other. It is amazing how now plants can communicate with each other.

  • rositap-Che
    4/23/2015 - 01:47 p.m.

    I wouldn't think that plants can communicate but there are ways plants do like what I thought growing. Also I think they could send signals to other plants and that's a way they can communicate.

  • TehyaWhite-Ste
    4/23/2015 - 07:39 p.m.

    I don't think this idea is crazy as much as I think it is truly amazing. It would make sense that they could because they're living. I think this is a good discovery because people need to realize communication comes in more forms than talking verbally.

  • mollyb-Orv
    4/23/2015 - 09:36 p.m.

    This is pretty cool, but I am not quite sure if I believe it; how does a person know if an animal, or plant is communicating with another one. Maybe its just trying to communicate, but the other one never really understands/ gets the message, but I don't think that we have the technology quite yet to completely understand how plants work... Maybe we should try to understand how the human mind works before we try plants. lol

  • ShawnaWeiser-Ste
    4/24/2015 - 01:10 p.m.

    I knew that plants could hear music but I didn't think of the idea that they could communicate with one another. Maybe plants are the next big thing in science. It would be pretty cool to be able to communicate with plants.

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