Recent research from Vidi researcher Josef Stuefer at the Radboud University Nijmegen reveals that plants have their own chat systems that they can use to warn each other.
Some of you may have seen this item in Science Daily (prior to the article Amy has cited about cycad sex) indicating that many plants actually communicate with each other through runners. These channels allow them to send signals that they are being attacked by caterpillars or that some other stress-producing factor is present. The signals allow the connecting plants (those studied were clover, strawberry plants, and ground elder) to strengthen their defenses or somehow make themselves less attractive to a predator.
From the same site, I also learned that plants can discriminate between their own roots and the roots of another plant and act accordingly and that they are much less competitive when planted with their own kind than when planted with unrelated plants. Maybe that’s why I’ve been getting a lot of mixed messages on mixed container plantings in the garden press lately. And I’ve noticed in my containers that certain plants emerge victorious, while some just disappear. Of course there could be lots of other reasons for that.
I like the idea of my plants chatting together … or do I? The fact that the plants they’ve found chatting are mostly aggressive weeds is ominous.