You will often find us talking about how plants can take care of you, but did you know that they are pretty effective in taking care of themselves too?
Recent research from Japan has managed to document (through some super techy video clips), just how quick plants are to respond to localized threats. With no brain, nervous system or muscles that really is quite impressive, so how do they do it?
When threatened, e.g. munching caterpillar (see video below) or pruning scissors, plants send electrical and chemical signals from the wounded area to the rest of the plant to let them know what is going on. Just like a stressed human produces calcium ions to make the heart beat faster or muscles contract, in the fight or flight mode, plants, with no obvious flight mode of course, do too release calcium ions from inflicted parts of the leaf.
These signals travel through the rest of the plant via the vascular system to take action. Such actions include an unappealing scent to deter or disrupt digestion from unwanted predators, or a physical hardening of the plant cells to make them a tough meal to munch on.
With all this wonderful biology going on within the lovely green foliage of plants, we can’t help wonder, whether, just as plants release stress hormones when they are threatened, that they release happy hormones too that we can benefit from, when well nurtured.