Plants may experience consciousness — but in a different way than humans

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A sundew plant catching and eating a fly.

Like us, plants possess receptors, microtubules and sophisticated intercellular systems that likely facilitate a degree of spatio-temporal consciousness. Instead of generating a pattern of colors, the particles of light bouncing off a plant produce a pattern of energy molecules — sugar — in the chlorophyll in its stems and leaves. Light-stimulating chemical reactions in one leaf cause a chain reaction of signals to the entire organism via vascular bundles.

Neurobiologists have discovered that plants also have rudimentary neural nets and the capacity for primary perceptions. Indeed, the sundew plant (Drosera) will grasp at a fly with incredible accuracy — much better than you can do a fly-swatter. Some plants even know when ants are coming towards them to steal their nectar and have mechanisms to close up when they approach. Scientists at Cornell University discovered that when a hornworm starts eating sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), the wounded plant will send out a blast of scent that warns surrounding plants — in the case of the study, wild tobacco (Nicotiana attenuata) – that trouble is on its way. Those plants, in turn, prepare chemical defenses that send the hungry critters in the opposite direction. Andre Kessler, the lead researcher, called this “priming its defense response.” “This could be a crucial mechanism of plant-plant communication,” he said.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Are Plants Aware?

  • S1ghk0mantiz

    By this logic we already have computer systems and artificial intelligences that are “conscious”…

  • Mack Doggs

    There is no data or studies that claim plants have consciousness in any way. This article is hippie new age garbage.

    The ability for sensory perception is not the same as consciousness. By the logic in this article, inert matter is “conscious” because it reacts molecularly with other matter.

    The metabolic reactions of plants are complex chemical reactions. Even creatures like jellyfish that have no brain, but have nervous systems, are not “conscious” they’re carrying out operations based on sensory perceptions, they are essentially automatons. You need a complex brain for any sort of consciousness, and an even more complex one for self awareness. This isn’t biocentrism, this is science.

  • Treebam3

    Humans. A cool article about something cool and the first two posts are arguing with it. I understand argument in debatable topics but this is crazy… On a similar topic here is something about conciseness levels: http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/10/religion-for-the-nonreligious.html