Plants Make Sounds – Take a Listen
I'm horrible with plants. I wish I had inherited my Grandma Effie's green thumb, but alas I did not. I swear that I have a black thumb! Over the years I've only been able to keep one plant alive for an extended period of time. It's is a succulent that I've had at work for the last 4 years. It's been repotted once (by a friend), and it's due for another as it's getting surprisingly bigger. However, a pet sitting client recently gave me a plant as a thank you, and it was dead less than two weeks later. I'm great with animals and horrible with plants. And after reading about a recent study, I feel especially bad. All of the plants I've killed, were probably screaming for help but I couldn't hear them.
As it turns out, plants make sounds.
Wait … what?
The study has found that tomatoes on the vine “scream” when their stem is cut off. Researchers from the University of Tel Aviv say the high-frequency sound – which is similar to “bubble-wrap being popped” – is a sign that the plants are thirsty. The sound can be heard from more than three feet away … but not by humans. It can, however, be heard by insects, other animals, and maybe even other plants.
The team found that stressed plants – those who need water, for example -- emit more sounds than unstressed plants. “Even in a quiet field, there are actually sounds that we don't hear, and those sounds carry information,” says Lilach Hadany, an evolutionary biologist and theoretician at Tel Aviv University. “There are animals that can hear these sounds, so there is the possibility that a lot of acoustic interaction is occurring.”
CLICK TO LISTEN: Recordings Of Plant Sounds
Although the study focused on tomato and tobacco plants because of their ease to grow in the lab, the research team also recorded a variety of other plant species. They found that many plants emits sounds whether healthy or stressed. The types of sound emitted differed with the cause of stress.
It’s possible that other organisms could have evolved to hear and respond to these sounds. For example, a moth that intends to lay eggs on a plant or an animal that intends to eat a plant could use the sounds to help guide their decision.
Farmers could use this information to take better care of their crops. Sound recordings of plants could help agricultural irrigation systems monitor crop hydration status and help distribute water more efficiently, according to the research team.
As for me, I won't get anymore plants unless they're the fake ones because they won't scream.