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back to article Corny conversations prove plants 'talk'

Setting aside any jokes about Prince Charles and talking to plants, an Australian scientist has turned up evidence that plants can use sound for rudeimentary communication. In a wonderful example of “why not test it” science, a University of Western Australia researcher decided to listen to growing corn plants – and yes, they “ …

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Eccles? Is that you?

Maybe John Wyndham wasn't that far off. Don't triffids also click to each other?

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Happy

rudeimentary?

If plants can communicate, maybe they can learn to spell such complex words as 'rudimentary' using Morse.

'Maybe John Wyndham wasn't that far off. Don't triffids also click to each other?'

They did and John Wyndham was brilliant.

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Accept it

Sure, plants communicate to each other all the time. Makes total sense. We seem to want a very clean divider between plants and animals, most likely because we don't want to see ourselves as unimportant. Bees dance for each other, other small critters secrete... the list is endless. Why in the world would that be any different for plants?

There was a recent study in GB that determined when one plant was injured it warned the neighboring plant to watch the eff out. Not with long words (or short ones), but with a gas we humans couldn't detect without special equipment.

Going a bit out on a limb, here, I would posit the wind carries "messages" all the time to far reaches of earth, and they land on the right "ears" with (probably) surprising regularity. Plants already use the wind for basic survival needs. You know, pollination. That in itself is still not entirely understood, and it's because of the same level of ignorance we have about so many living things out there. We've a lot to learn.

Humans - understandably - see things through a particularly human filter and are missing most of what goes on in the universe. Thank goodness, too. We'd be immediately overwhelmed - and destroyed - by the cacophony and data avalanche. Everything living has its own filters for the same reason. I would also think one day our definition of what is living will expand, too.

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Silver badge

Re: Accept it

I'm not at all overwhelmed, nor do I find it to be a cacophony or a "data avalanche". Rather, I use my senses to learn how to best prepare & eat it.

Every single day of my life, I give thanks that I'm an omnivore.

I think I've accepted it :-)

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Paris Hilton

Re: Accept it

There was a recent study in GB that determined when one plant was injured it warned the neighboring plant to watch the eff out."

But what is the purpose? What can the plant do to defend itself?

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Re: Accept it

Got some doubts about that one. You could say mammals, humans for example, when attacked or injured, will spray a red fluid around them, to act as a warning to others.

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Re: Accept it

"But what is the purpose? What can the plant do to defend itself?"

some plants are known to increase the level of toxins in their leaves when they receive such signals - I believe this was observed in oak trees when one of them emitted signals that he (she?) was infected by a certain beatle

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sgb

Re: Accept it

Was this a recent study? If so it'd have to be Ringo or Paul.

Ringoworm?

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Those who are vegetarians because they don't want to eat something sentient

What will those who are vegetarians because they are too squeamish to eat something sentient do? I can understand and respect being vegetarian or vegan for religious reasons, but for those who are just horrified by the thought of eating an animal, I guess they will be down to eating synthetically generated food. Either that or they will have a total break down and head for the outback steak house!

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Holmes

Re: Those who are vegetarians because they don't want to eat something sentient

IIRC, one of the big tests for sentience is recognising ones-self in a mirror. I'm pretty sure plants might just fall at that particular hurdle, alas.

Still, a foodplant that screams as you eat it would be such a great trick to play on them pesky self-rightous veggies and vegans...

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Re: Those who are vegetarians because they don't want to eat something sentient

There's an enormous gap between reacting to sound or light or chemicals in the way that plants do and being sentient.

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Re: Those who are vegetarians because they don't want to eat something sentient

Relevant to your interests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmUXuoi_K4U

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Anonymous Coward

They're talkative tonight...

Plus one for the Day of the Triffids references. Coincidentally, I'm just re-reading it at the moment, for the zillionth time. Wyndham fans should also check out "The Kracken Wakes" for an even better [IMNSHO] apocalyptic tale, with presciently modern day themes.

Back on-topic, I wonder what the point in these inter-plant messages is? If Harold the turnip is screaming "Help! Herbivore approaching!" what are the the other turnips supposed to do about it; form a defensive circle? flee? It's not like plants can pick up their roots and run away... or are we back in John Wyndham territory again?

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Mushroom

Re: They're talkative tonight...

Not many remember that the cause of the blindness and plague was orbiting nuclear and biological weapons. The Triffids are really incidental to the story, it's really about the breakdown of society as is happening in Libya etc.

In "The Midwich Cuckoos" the political parties are trying hard to loose the election so as not to be the ones that have to nuke Southampton. I often wonder if they have a similar problem today.

Great author!

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Re: They're talkative tonight...

Surely there are many votes in nuking Southampton. I'm sure it would play well north of Watford, and Portsmouth has several marginal constituencies from memory...

'The Kraken Wakes' is an excellent book. If my copy wasn't currently in storage, I'd dig it out and quote "The Boffin's Lament" the next time that someone complains about El Reg's use of the word boffin.

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Anonymous Coward

But how often does corn grow with its roots in water in the wild anyway?

And how is a constant tone similar to an intermittent transient pulse? And what were the relative power-levels of the signals?

They have shown that plants make sounds. They have shown that vibrations (aka sounds) can affect plants. But speculating that this is any kind of communication is hugely premature.

Hell, consider my experiment: beatles have been observed to fart. And if you put them in a strong breeze, which is kind of like a fart, they tend to will move in the direction it is blowing! Therefore beatles are talking to each other in fart language to tell each other which way to go!

I'll bet this one turns out to be nothing, on further investigation, apart from a premature, breathless and hyperbolic press release.

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Facepalm

beatles

Aw Ringo, crack a window will ya?

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FAIL

Oh FFS. My tomato plants lean toward the light. That doesn't mean they are trying to tell me to turn them round.

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Go

The Bushes Scream While My Daddy Prunes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpgyVxP8OG8

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Gimp

"so I decided as a scientist to find out."

I've used that excuse in the bedroom many a time!*

*please note I don't need therapy, my other half is also a scientist.

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That'll be the ears of corn then.

Wait until it strikes her that potatoes have eyes.

Course she'd want to be careful around sentient corn - she could end up being stalked.

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Despite the unfortunate Lafayette Ronald Hubbard associations

this article might give rise to, this is serious science. Thanks for the headsup, Richard !...

Henri

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Beanstalk.

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Plants can talk actual words

I know that for certain because I once overheard a theatre usher mentioning to the manager that tonights comedian was getting a lot of heckling. "You don't need to worry about that", the manager said, "its because there's a plant in the audience".

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Re: Plants can talk actual words

Well that's a turnip for the books...

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Joke

Waiter, waiter...

My salad is clicking!

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