Plants can communicate with each other, react to predators.

Plants are portrayed as passive lifeforms, which simply grow, wither or get eaten, or in the case of heliotropes, turn towards the light. But this is a false view; actually, plants actively react to their environment, they communicate with each other, and they fight predators chemically. Plants have something which we may call intelligence.

Here is how it works: If one of the network plants is attacked by caterpillars, the other members of the network are warned via an internal signal to upgrade their chemical and mechanical resistance—making their leaves hard to chew on and less desirable. This system works to spread the information amongst the plants and to ward off caterpillars.

“This is an early warning system, very much like in military defense, but then more effective: each member of the network can receive the external signal of impending herbivore danger and transmit it to the other members of the network,” Stuefer said. The attacked leaf is lost. However, the remaining leaves are protected against predators.

2 thoughts on “Plants can communicate with each other, react to predators.

  1. lordmetroid November 28, 2011 at 01:56

    Yes, plants are colony-dwelling organisms that communicate via chemicals. Grass tells neighboring individuals to stiffen up when they get trampled. There is even an example of solidarity in case of trees that starts to produce poison to repel insects but leaves a few trees undefended so that the insects will not develop a resistance.

    To create a fully functioning plant society many species of plants are required where each species contributes with their special function such as for example transporting and distributing nutrients, digging for minerals, attract pollinators and so on. Usually the society have a few key species which usually are bigger trees or bushes in symbiosis with fungi.

  2. Tim Cooijmans December 2, 2011 at 00:18

    There is even an example of solidarity in case of trees that starts to produce poison to repel insects but leaves a few trees undefended so that the insects will not develop a resistance.
    Can you give a reference for this?

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