What Plants Talk About

When I wrote that my plants are indeed sentient, I didn’t know the half of it. It seems plants move, talk, communicate, cooperate, form families and compete with rival “clans”. It can all be found at:  http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/what-plants-talk-about/video-full-episode/8243/

For example, take the Douglas fir on the Olympic Peninsula, WA. It can grow to 300 feet tall — and creates a shade problem for its offspring. But the mama trees apparently are aware of this and channel more nutrients to the baby trees so they can grow, in spite of the lack of sunlight.

They also have a lovely symbiotic relationship with fungi. The fungi can put “roots” into the tiniest of crevices, saving the big trees from having to expand their root system even further. The fungi then send the nutrients back to the trees, in exchange for carbon from the tree roots.

Here’s the surprise: the fungal underground root network covers the entire forest! Hundreds of miles of fungal “helpers” link the trees of the whole Olympic Peninsula, as they do in other large (and small) forests.

One of the researchers went to see Avatar a few years ago. In the movie, there was a Mother Tree that nourished everything through a vast root network. The researcher had to seriously restrain herself from jumping up and yelling, “You read my paper!!”

Other plants have demonstrated kinship relations. For example, sister plants have roots that “spoon” next to each other and grow shorter root hairs, so they both have room to grow and expand. But rival plant roots compete mercilessly for the nutrients by pushing “strange” roots aside. They do recognize each other!

They also react to predators by developing toxins to kill them; and to danger in various ways, as well.

Who knew?

And how do they do this without brains or a nervous system?

Who knows??

Stay tuned!

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