This is the first video ever to show plants “communicating”
The touch-me-not plant (mimosa pudica) is an interesting plant. It’s enough to lightly shake or brush it to see its unique defense mechanism: it will quickly contract its leaves. But how does it do it? Thanks to a recent video, we now have visual evidence of the process for the first time ever.
When it senses danger, like a nearby herbivore ready to take a bite, the touch-me-not plant quickly contracts its leaves. It’s enough just to touch its leaves, and the mechanism is triggered instantly:
This happens because calcium erupts within the plant’s system, prompting the exposed areas to recoil. And it’s not just the mimosa pudica that features this defense mechanism: other plants do, too. I’m convinced my overly dramatic peace lily has it as well.
ScienceAlert recently shared a video showing this defense mechanism in action. It doesn’t show the touch-me-not plant, though, but the principle is the same. Scientists from Japan’s Saitama University have genetically modified the thale cress (arabidopsis thaliana) to fluoresce bright green when their cells receive more calcium. And it literally shows neighboring plants “talking,” warning each other about predators!
The thing is, the neighboring plants were infested with caterpillars. They emitted chemicals through the air to “warn” the healthy plants of the potential danger, which in turn triggered the calcium reaction in their neighboring plants. How cool is that?
This reminded me of the Fantastic Fungi documentary, exploring the magical and intelligent world of an underground network of fungi mycelium. While we often admire certain animals for their intelligence, communication skill, or just their goofiness, plants and fungi can be equally fascinating.
If you’re interested, you can find more information about the research in the study published in the journal Nature. Take a look at some glowing flowers to admire, as this video also reminded me of Craig Burrows’s spectacular project.
Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.