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

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. However, 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.

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. 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 (148)
  • Giannas-Pav
    4/22/2015 - 09:56 a.m.

    That's crazy to think that plants can feel, see, smell, and possibly hear! Its amazing that people actually have the answers to some of these questions people are asking. Maybe other things can communicate that we don't know about.

    • Kaylah-Pav
      4/23/2015 - 10:02 a.m.

      Its kind of creepy to imagine all the other creatures and things that could be communicating without us even knowing and we may never findout

  • matthewj-Fit
    4/22/2015 - 10:34 a.m.

    Most people wouldn't believe plants could communicate a few years ago, but now many people's perspectives have changed. This could because of the signals that plants give, such as certain scents. This could also be because Plants are living, and they seem to react to other plants actions and movements. This could be more noticeable now, because of studies showing more and more about plants, and their intelligence.

  • kalindah11
    4/22/2015 - 11:14 a.m.

    The mere thought of plants being able to communicate is rather... well, scary to me. They are living, yes, but communicating? This is so odd, I barely believe it.

  • arifv-Tho
    4/22/2015 - 11:43 a.m.

    I pretty shore that plants can not talk because they don't have a mouth. I haven't seen a talking plant in my life. It would be impossible for a plant to talk.

  • RaelinaH35
    4/22/2015 - 12:05 p.m.

    I think that it's cool that plants can talk to each other. The grass warns the other plants to defend themselves. What if the plants are planning to take over the world? What if we could communicate with plants?

  • RachelD-4
    4/22/2015 - 12:51 p.m.

    People thought plants couldn't communicate, but now some scientists think otherwise. Plants don't have eyes, ears, or mouths, but some people think they communicate in other ways. They believe plants can feel, smell and maybe hear signals coming from other plants. For example, when you mow your lawn you smell a smell that smells like grass, but the grass could actually be sending a warning signal to other plants because it just got cut. But, if you think about it you think why would grass help the competition, well scientists have an answer to that too. They say that the grass is trying to tell the other grass of the impending doom and other plants kind of eavesdrop on the "conversation".

    My opinion of this article is that it is highly probable that plants can communicate. There is no evidence to say that they can't, but there is also very little evidence that plants can communicate, so there would need to be more evidence for people to really believe this theory.

  • KathyBuns
    4/22/2015 - 01:09 p.m.

    This is actually very very interesting! To think that plants can feel! Now i'm going to feel bad when I cut grass. It's too bad though that not a lot people see the real fascinating world of plants. I sure hope scientists can find whole lot more interesting things about plants.

  • preciousa1028
    4/22/2015 - 01:17 p.m.

    Never in a million years would I think that plants can communicate because they don't have any physical features that would lead you to that conclusion, but according to science they can see, hear, and smell and you would think they use those abilities to talk to other plants, but they use them to talk to themselves.

  • Sarahs-OBr
    4/22/2015 - 01:37 p.m.

    I would never have thought that plants could communicate with each other. I knew that plants were living things like us, but I didn't think that they would be able to communicate with each other without us knowing. They said that the smell of freshly cut grass is actually sending out a signal to other plants to be cautious. I think that the idea that plants could talk would just be in the land of Wonderland, but for plants to communicate just changed my whole perspective of plants. And I'm sure other people feel that way to.

    • IsaiahW-Kut
      4/23/2015 - 06:26 p.m.

      wow! I never knew that plants could talk. I didn't even know they can do anything. I have always wondered what that smell was when my dad cut the grass. I never liked it. but its a chemical blast to let other grasses to go to the defensive side. Its surprising now that I know what the grass does when we cut the grass.

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