Plants ‘scream’ when you break their stem or don’t give them enough water, study revealed

© Pixabay

As children, we all were budding with curiosity, and when in a garden, this curiosity led us to pluck leaves and flowers from plants and then later being scolded by our parents with them saying ‘it hurts them when you do this’.

© Pixabay

While as adults we think of this as a white lie our parents told, but researchers have revealed that some plants do scream when their leaves are plucked.

Researchers at Tel Aviv Univerisity discovered that some plants emit a high-frequency distress sound when they face some sort of stress in the environment. They were working on Tomato and Tobacco plants by limiting the water and cutting their stems. They had placed a high-frequency microphone 10 centimetres away from the plants.

Tomato plants and a tobacco plant
Tomato plants and a tobacco plant. © Pixabay

When put under stress, these plants were emitting ultrasonic frequencies between 20 and 100 kilohertz. As per researchers, this could tell other plants and organisms about their distress in the nearby vicinity.

When the researchers tried cutting the stem of a tomato plant the microphone detected it emit 25 ultrasonic distress sounds for an hour or so. On the other hand, when they deprived both Tomato and Tobacco plants from water, Tomato made louder distress calls at 35 ultrasonic distress sounds while Tobacco made 11.

Plants 'scream' when you break their stem or don't give them enough water, study revealed 1
The researchers measured the frequency and intensity of the sound, which differed both by plant type and by the type of stress. These findings were then plugged into a machine learning model to predict what types of sound other sources of stress might produce.

They had also kept a few plants away from harm’s way. Here they discovered that these plants emitted one ultrasonic sound per hour.

They collected this data and put through a machine learning model that can predict a plant’s needs and help farmers take care of their crops better. While it is still a work in progress, the potential is surely promising.

Researchers state in a paper previous year “These findings can alter the way we think about the plant kingdom, which has been considered to be almost silent until now.”

1 comment
  1. What exactly were the plants using to make this noise? U cant just shake your soft a$$ leaves and like magically produce ultrasonic hi freq sounds. You need a piezoelectric element to do that with electricity or some sort of hard bone or cartilidge object or organ that is vibrated by muscles at some resonant frequency or within a chamber that amplifies sound, like frogs or humans have a larynx and voice box or crickets rub legs together or bats havesome sort of hi freq emitting organ or dolphins have a fluid filled organ that acts as a sensor/sonar. Plants…..they have leaves for photosynthesis, flowers and fruits to reproduce, stems and trunks for vascular system and roots for nutrition. I think i read once that trees can communicate thru electric impulses thru root systems and others can warn each other orgrazing animals thru pheromones or hormones they can release like pollen. But producing sound requires some gear im not aware of any plant having….

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