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pmmbok t1_itgyoud wrote

My favorite plant intelligent thing is with the sensitivity plant that folds its leave when disturbed. So some scientist dropped the potted plant in a nondestructive repetitive, reproducible manner. The plant folds its leaves in response...up to a point....and then "realizing" that the drops poses no risk, ceases folding its leaves. There is an energy cost to folding its leaves, so if no real danger, it shouldn't fold.

But even more interesting, is that if you go back to the same plant a month later, and drop it in the same way, it doesn't fold its leaves. It "remembers" as it were, that this is not dangerous.


Schmikas t1_ithe0m5 wrote

This is fascinating! Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

For others who are interested in reading more, here’s the link to the original paper that is summarised neatly in this National Geographic article.


LynnDuck4 t1_ithn8oq wrote

Huh, I read the Abstract and then the nat geo article. Based on what nat geo said, it sounds like she checked each plant each week for 28 days. I wonder how long they keep that information, since it says bees can only keep a discovery for a few days.

If I were this researcher, I'd consider testing 2 plants (or three if she had an extra 28) every single day. Each day is a new set of plants that had stopped curling up, and checking to see if they "remember" that they don't need to curl up. Idk, I don't have full access to the paper, so maybe the researcher did do that, or plans to.


mobilehomehell t1_ithdazp wrote

Do you have a link for this? That's fascinating


pmmbok t1_ithf4df wrote

Another kind commentator provided the link for us.


katherinesilens t1_ithh8r4 wrote

Does it curl if otherwise stimulated? Can we rule out that we simply broke something in the plant?


Jrook t1_ithr0s4 wrote

So I don't know this particular study but the way Venus flytraps work is each stimulus released a flood of calcium. However there's a trigger point which must be met. And such channels can be made more sensitive or less based on how much calcium it's exposed to.


nikolai_470000 t1_itin2js wrote

That kind of adjustment is similar to how neural nets are adjusted in machine learning, which itself is derived from how our brains learn things. I think that makes it a type of intelligence in its own way. Obviously it’s less sophisticated than a brain and not quite sentience, but it’s still quite remarkable


Jrook t1_itiueje wrote

I'm more inclined to think it's less of a type of intelligence, personally. It seems mechanical. Like an if/than program. Which I believe is a component to intelligence. But not inherently intelligence.

If I were to break away from the logical side, I don't believe you can have an intelligence in a creature without an organ basically dedicated to it.


nikolai_470000 t1_itji31f wrote

I’d say there’s some validity to that except that there are plenty of other species with brains that are ‘dedicated to intelligence’ that aren’t very intelligent and by some standards are barely sentient or not sentient whatsoever, depending on who you ask

It’s definitely not the same as a brain making conscious decisions, but the ability to change its reaction level in certain pathways to alter its response to different kinds of stimuli over time is very similar to what happens to our brains as we develop and learn new things, I would say that makes it a kind of intelligence that’s different from ours but still very much a real form of intelligence

There’s a big difference between general intelligence and other types but that doesn’t make one type any more or less than another

I think it’s fair to say this kind of intelligence could be considered a component of general intelligence but GI is such a broad and amorphous concept, almost anything could


spiderpig_spiderpig_ t1_itjzddx wrote

The whole "phenotype" thing really throws me for a loop. Is there really a difference between an organism that changes its reaction level / cells inside a chunk of calcium and one that changes its reaction level / activity in a bounded area of soil? Where is the boundary...?


pmmbok t1_ithlhpt wrote

I can't verify from memory, someone will re-read and verify. Unlikely they didn't check.


[deleted] t1_ithr0eq wrote



Cethinn t1_iti2gxi wrote

I haven't heard of this, but it sounds like it'd be much better explained as tree roots grow towards vibrations, not tree roots grow towards the sound of flowing water. Sure, flowing water creates vibrations, but I'd bet on it being more broad than specifically listening for water. However, in nature those are effectively the same. There aren't too many sources of vibration underground besides water, so there's no need for the trees to distinguish sources.


spiderpig_spiderpig_ t1_itjzi4j wrote

How confident are you of this / dreaded citation needed? I'd imagine many burrowing animals would make an awful lot more direct noise than trees in a dry area (I have no source, other than my imagination!).


Cethinn t1_itk4l3f wrote

I'd say like 60% confidence. I also have no knowledge on the subject, but it's what makes sense. Developing mechanisms to recognize different types of sounds is a lot more difficult than just moving towards sounds in general.

Burrowing animals would create vibrations, but it wouldn't be constant unless it's near a nest of some kind. Even if that did happen, there wouldn't be any harm. If we consider the results with just burrowing towards vibration in general and burrowing towards a recognized water sound, the outcomes are about the same with one mechanism being significantly easier to evolve.


1coudini t1_ithsoj3 wrote

You got a source?


Bah-Fong-Gool t1_itkjwa2 wrote

You could always just Google "tree roots grow towards sound of running water" and find dozens of articles. It's not a secret.


pmmbok t1_iti6sbe wrote

Cool beans. I hadn't heard about that. But, perhaps in the "World Wood Web", I have read that the matriarch Douglas fir will specifically send carbon (food) to its offspring if they are stressed through the fungal mycilial network. Canadian study. Nicely done. Radiolabeled carbon.


[deleted] t1_ithv3ca wrote



pickypawz t1_iti1tut wrote

…do you mean vibrations, not hearing? And if so, our hearing is only possible through vibrations, correct? We have a whole set up for our ears, but nevertheless, it begins with vibrations.


AlexanderDaychilde t1_iti2mh8 wrote

They didn't assert sight, but rather hearing. And hearing is the perception of compressions and rarefactions in air or material, which could also be referred to as vibrations. :)


radiolabel t1_itkt5ag wrote

Plants also share resources to create healthy communities, as each plant has its ecological purpose/niche. The study was done using radioactive CO2.