Just how smart are plants?

in science •  10 months ago

A few years ago I grew a pumpkin vine in the yard just for fun.
After it started growing, it immediately made a straight line for a wire frame I had some beans growing on. They grow several inches if not feet per day. I moved the frame and to my surprise the vine changed course straight for the wire frame. I moved it several times and with each time it seemed more hesitant to grow towards it. This seems to point towards not only sensing and making a decision where to grow, but also memory. After several times it finally ignored the wire frame.
I tried this with different pumpkin vines with different objects with similar results. They seem to prefer wire or trellis materials as they are easier for them to climb.
I do wonder how they sense objects. Could it be sound or light? Or perhaps a sort of sonar using ambient noise?
I did noticed that plants with more hairs seem more responsive to foreign stimuli.
Their leaves are of course photo sensitive, so can that be thought of as sight? I think so, we see by light reflecting off of objects, how is that different?
I researched and found there are scientific experiments proving plants indeed have a sort of intelligence.
They communicate through the roots using fungi in the soil and through the air using chemicals.
They show empathy for other plants, their relatives taking preference. They will give up nutrients to other plants in need.
Experiments have shown that under certain conditions, when a plant is attacked by bugs, other nearby plants will secrete chemicals to attract predators that consume the bugs.
I think science is near a breakthrough concerning plant intelligence. They have found that plant cells are similar to neurons.
Could the brain of the plant be distributed throughout instead of centralized?
Is it possible that they are far more intelligent than we give them credit for, just so different that we can't understand their form of intelligence?

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It reminds me of plants that grow natural yellow bumps on their leaves to make butterflies believe those leaves already have eggs on them so they won't ley eggs on those plants. How do the plants know that the eggs become caterpillars? how do they know the eggs are small and yellow?

It also reminds me of this:


Yes, it does seem to make sense. Whether they know what they are doing or not I don't know, but they are intelligent I think, who knows to what extent. We understand each other best is why humans seem the superior. Like with dogs, we see dogs as being smarter than most animals but they're not, it's just that we understand them and they us because we have been around them for 30,000 years or so.
I can almost feel the presence of some plants, especially old oaks.
We no doubt have much to learn.


A problem in there concerning hierarchical thinking. Because intelligences are different, they are put into levels of relation like "superior" and "smarter".
We are now preferring to assign worth more democratically, we are different but equal.
I worship trees, but consider them friends, not superiors, and judge them on an individual by individual basis. Based on behaviour, like everyone else.
Much fascinating writing exists along the lines of plant intelligence; I particularly like Michael Pollen, especially The Botany of Desire. The study of essential oils leads one down many rabbitholes of plants and consciousness.
Thanks for the interesting discussion!


I have not read that, but is very familiar. How have I not read that? Thanks!
I have always felt a connection and avoided harming them, but my experience with the pumpkin vine really got me thinking. I now see them as extraordinary beings deserving our respect. I have never chained myself to a tree or anything that extreme, but I have put up enough argument at my workplace to save a couple of very old Oaks from removal. I made a...well it's hard to explain, I'll post in the next day or two, but it's a garden area full of life and death.
I just went and got the audiobook, will read tonight before sleep.


I thought I had found the audio book on youtube, turned out it was just talking about it, still get the idea though. Gonna search for the real thing later though.