Saturday August 05, 2017
Indigenous stories lead scientist to discover plants can hear
more stories from this episode
- Indigenous stories lead scientist to discover plants can hear
- Socially awkward honeybees might provide clues about autism
- Spying scientists listen in on fish conversations
- Searching for new crown jewels in the high Arctic
- Chicken bone discovery reveals a rich backstory
- Why can't you remember when you get knocked out?
- Full Episode
Do you talk to your plants? Well, science suggests they might be able to hear you. An Australian scientist was inspired by stories from Indigenous people around the world about how they communicate with plants.
- Paper in the journal Oecologia, Tuned in: plant roots use sound to locate water
Leigh Joseph, an ethnobotonist with the Sqamish First Nation in Canada, is starting her PhD in the fall to study the use of plant food and medicines to treat type 2 diabetes. Part of her research involves gathering wild plants used in traditional medicine. She was taught a certain protocol when it comes to gathering plants, which involves giving a verbal offering to the plants, in the form of a prayer, a thanks, a song, or by introducing herself.
"When you go out into the forest, into an estuary, or a different ecosystem, where you're going to be harvesting a plant, food, or medicine, is you want to get yourself into a space of respect and understanding that we are interacting with the plants who are considered our second oldest ancestors that we have after the rocks, which are called the grandfathers and the plants are referred to as the grandmothers. Those offerings are meant for the plant and meant also for the ancestors who walk beside us when we go out and harvest on the land."
- Trees have their own fungal internet
- Plant bleeds nectar to recruit ant bodyguards
- Plants avoid sunburn by shivering away extra heat
The interesting thing is, science is revealing that in some sense, the plants may actually be listening. A new study by Dr. Monica Gagliano, a research associate professor adjunct in Evolutionary Ecology at the University of Western Australia, has demonstrated that plants can hear.
Plants can sense and move towards moisture in the soil — at quite a distance. Dr. Gagliano tested whether they found that water using sound. And she found that plants will send their roots towards the sound of running water, even if the plants only hear a recording of running water.