Greg Gage is a neuroscientist who, during one of the TED talks, highlights the ability of plants to “count” and “think”. These first scientific advances bring us closer to the idea that plants could have some kind of consciousness.
In the experiment, Gage used two types of fast-moving plants in order to capture reactions to stimuli. The chosen ones were: a Mimosa (Sensitive mimosa), its leaves fold when touched and a Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) that closes its "mouth" when a fly enters it.
The electrical impulses could be measured by the neuroscientist with electrodes as if they were neurons firing in the brain. When you touch the leaves of the Mimosa, signals reach the stem to close them. This could be compared to the communication that occurs between the brain and the stimulated parts of the body.
The electrodes were also placed on a carnivorous plant, the Venus flytrap. The result was the same, when Gage touched his sensory hairs, the electrical impulse was generated in the plant, but without shutting down. What happened in this case? Venus is able to distinguish if the stimulus was generated by a true prey. You can make this distinction thanks to the 3 sensitive hairs calledtrichomes found on its lobes (leaves). These hairs are responsible for "announcing" to the plant that a prey has landed, to be captured.
For the lobe to close, one of the trichomes will be activated upon contact, if this contact is repeated in a second trichome within 20 seconds, the lobes will close immediately. Another mechanism is that a single trichome is stimulated more than once in a fraction of seconds. These stimuli will cause the lobes to close at a speed of one tenth of a second.
With these reactions observed in the experiment, the neuroscientist concludes that some plants would also know how to “count”.
Plants don't have brains, Greg said, but they can communicate using electricity. So, he connected the two plants together to see if electrical pulses in one could affect the other. When he touched the hair of the Venus flytrap, the mimosa plant curled up.
Other cases with trees
The GermanPeter wohlleben showed in his book "The Hidden Life of Trees" that a forest functions as a community in which trees communicate, make friends and protect each other.
One of the cases in which this concept of community can be seen is when a tree is being eaten by some plague. It is then when the attacked tree generates chemical substances to warn the rest of the trees that there is a predator in the area. In this way, the other trees begin to generate other chemicals to distract or deter the pest.
Trees also share nutrients with each other through their root systems. The strongest trees share sugars with weakened trees, there is a whole network under the ground. This strategy is based on the strength of the whole, if a tree dies, it leaves empty spaces in the forest allowing the entry of winds, vectors, etc.
A tree will not treat all other trees the same, but chooses its friends
In an interview, Peter comments: “In about one out of every 50 cases this very special friendship occurs between the trees. They are able to distinguish between one person and another in the same way that they do not treat all trees the same. Just today, I saw two old beeches next to each other. Each one directed its branches towards its side, so as not to mix them with that of the other. This is just one more sample of all the ways trees take care of each other. Forest rangers know this kind of symbiosis between trees. They are like an endearing old couple. If you cut down one of the two, you will have to cut down the other because it will die also whatever you do. "
Other scientists have suggested that plants are "mentally" very capable
The degree to which trees feel or think in the same way as other beings, including human beings, cannot yet be established. But Peter and Greg contribute to the growing evidence surrounding the high sensitivity of plants.
Some scientists have already shown that plants have long-term memory, that they know their physical environment and the behavior of other plants, and even what is even more controversial, that they can read a person's thoughts.
Here is the video of one of the experiments of the neuroscientist Greg Gage:
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