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Plant Intelligence

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Posted Feb 19, '08 at 9:16pm

Kurgle

Kurgle

165 posts

I've always wanted to know, do plants think? I just like to assume they do but I read this article about an experiment that a few Russian scientists did with cabbage. Here it is:

A row of about six cabbage plants were attached to a sensitive instrument that measured various electronic waves transmitted by the living plants. The device worked somewhat like an electroencephalograph attached to the human brain.



During the experiment, a man entered the room each day at a certain time to water and add nourishment to the soil in each of the pots in which the cabbages were growing. The signals were recorded. There was a reaction to this activity each day.



Then one day a new person entered the room carrying an ax. This man walked up to one of the cabbage plants and chopped it to pieces. The response on the recorders was immediate. There was a wild increase in electronic activity. It was clear that the other cabbage plants not only were aware of this terrible event, they expressed a strong response to what just happened.



From that time on, the mere entrance of the room by the man who had wielded the ax, caused the same kind of electronic reaction among the surviving cabbage plants.



The conclusion among the scientists conducting the study is that the cabbage plants not only are aware of their surroundings, they communicate with one another, and respond to events that affect them.

 

Posted Feb 19, '08 at 9:27pm

chiliad_nodi

chiliad_nodi

652 posts

Plant intelligence is strange because they don't use neurons, but since they still have a conciousness, they can still think (to a certain extent). Please correct me if I am wrong, I only did a little bit of research (2 min) and combined it with prior knowledge.

There was another experiment:
Plants were subjected to different sounds and the plants grew differently.
1 no sound
2 loving the plant
3 cursing the plant
4 classical music
5 heavy metal
No sound did the worst. Loving and cursing fared exactly the same. They were second-to-worst. Then classical music, and (semi-surprisingly) heavy metal was the plant's favorite. They grew the best.

 

Posted Feb 19, '08 at 9:30pm

Kurgle

Kurgle

165 posts

I think heavy metal did the best was because there was more going on (i.e. drums, guitar, ect.) then any of the others.

 

Posted Feb 19, '08 at 9:42pm

RaptorExx

RaptorExx

2,330 posts

that's cool, I mean I never knew that plants were aware, I knew they can 'think' as in arrange everything that goes on within themselves, but actually having a 'reaction' to their cabbage comrades, awsome :D

 

Posted Feb 19, '08 at 9:46pm

Kurgle

Kurgle

165 posts

Here's some more info:
Dr. Tony Trewavas of the University of Edinburgh has shown that plants also respond to wind or touch. If plants are in a windy spot they build thicker and tougher stems to resist wind buffeting. Plant roots have molecules on the surface of their cells which taste soil for pockets of nitrate. US Department of Agriculture scientists have shown that corn, cotton, and tobacco plants recognize what kind of caterpillar is munching on them by the taste of the caterpillar's spit. The molecules in the caterpillar saliva triggers the plants to produce a turpentine like chemical defense that matches the kind of caterpillar. Different kinds of caterpillars cause different chemicals to be secreted. This turpentine-like material not only causes other plants to secret the same material, but it attracts a wasp that eats the caterpillar.

 

Posted Feb 19, '08 at 9:59pm

jwalshjr

jwalshjr

640 posts

ya... this subject interests me... but i am still not really sure were i side... some results are interesting... but still... and chiliad that was mythbusters that did that

 

Posted Feb 19, '08 at 11:29pm

Carlie

Carlie

7,222 posts

Knight

I do not think that plants specifically think. But they do definitely respond to their environments. If they didn't they would die. They have to be able to grow and adapt to their current conditions.

chiliad_nodi, I saw something like that on Mythbusters, and they got the same results. The plants did not respond better or worse to kind voices, it was just the noise that they responded to.

Kurgle, I would like to see an article on that. I find it hard to believe that a cabbage would have an adverse affect to a man. It must have been something physical about it that they responded to. Because the fact is, plants do not have brains. They can respond to different stimuli chemically by affecting how they grow and move, but they cannot make the conscious decision to do one thing or the other.

 

Posted Feb 19, '08 at 11:33pm

Carlie

Carlie

7,222 posts

Knight

In addition, this may sound weird, but plants have memories. Not in the way you think, as in remembering things with a brain. But they are able to somehow record how long a cold spell or warm weather has lasted. This is because they use this information to know when to go dormant, grow their leaves, etc. That is why plants know when they should go into bloom. They have a memory of what is happening in the environment around them. They can also tell this by how long the day is. By timing the amount of sunshine they have been getting, they can also determine if it is the right time of year or not to bloom.

Just to clarify though, I am not saying that they have a memory that they can actually think with. I am saying that they have some sort of physical or chemical memory that they can use to judge growth patterns by.

 

Posted Feb 20, '08 at 12:07am

RaptorExx

RaptorExx

2,330 posts

well, I think they are aware, but cannot do anything with this awareness, thats why they responded to when their kin was chopped up, they are aware that something, something that changes the enviroment around the cabbage itself, is no longer there, they could probably sense it that quick, as maybe something inside is released, this releasing thing is new, and that's why the reaction came, they were adapting to some new chemical or 'smell' in the air...

 

Posted Feb 20, '08 at 12:15am

Carlie

Carlie

7,222 posts

Knight

That is possible perhaps. I would not use the word 'aware' though. I think that they can sense changes in their environment, and make certain chemical changes and signals to adapt to it.

But I don't think they specifically thought 'oh no, my cabbage friend has died!' So much as they probably may have chemically sensed that a cabbage had released a chemical warning when it was predated upon. As far as further identifying that predator as one that can cause harm, that I don't believe.