Annalee Newitz at io9 has collected 10 pieces of evidence that plants are smarter than you think, and it might make you look at your potted ficus in a new light. It turns out there’s reason to believe that plants can communicate, remember, recognize related plants, and measure time. Let’s hope nobody finds out they can feel pain, or the vegans will all starve.
Among the cool collected factoids about plant cognition:
- Plants can develop a sort of Pavlovian response to certain light wavelengths. When researchers exposed plants to a particular wavelength followed by a harmful virus, they found that future contact with that wavelength of light spurred the plants to start manufacturing antibodies — like a dog salivating in response to a bell.
- Corn roots make a clicking sound at around 220 Hz (which is within human hearing range). And if you record a sound around that frequency and play it at a corn plant, the roots will bend towards the source of the noise.
- Impatiens pallida plants can tell when they’re surrounded by other Impatiens pallida plants, and they don’t work as hard to hoard nutrients. Basically, the plants will fight harder for survival if they can tell that they’re around strangers.
- Tobacco plants are able to send off chemical danger warnings when attacked, which can be picked up even by plants of a different species.
You can read more over at io9. Me, I’m off to give the stink-eye to those trees outside. I’m starting to suspect this “seasonal allergies” thing isn’t as innocent as it sounds.