Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Can plants recognize their own siblings?

Plants have been shown to be more competitive when they are grown alongside their unrelated neighbours as compared to their own siblings as shown in this report. It was found that plants grown beside strangers grow greater roots than those grown with their maternal siblings. It was proposed that plants secrete a protein or chemical signal specific to each plant's family. This signal can then be detected by other roots in the nearby area.

Why did I make thus post? Because I have seen elsewhere about vegetarianism being discussed regarding this issue. There are people who like to say "but being vegetarian also kills plants" or "plants are living too", now with this article we may even hear "plants can recognize their family". Does it mean that there is no point in being vegetarian since plants can also know family from non-family members? I do not think so.

First, I certainly do not think humans recognize family members and friends by mere their scent or sight etc only. That wouldn't explain things like why there are people out there who are able to read minds or communicate even when they are distance apart. What about animals? Even if they do not have the power to read minds, just being with them, we will be able to recognize how similar they are to us, it's something we know in our hearts.

Second, in terms of anatomy animals are more similar to us than plants. Well, perhaps you can say that the difference in anatomy does not mean plants cannot have the capacity to feel like us. But when we see animals being killed and a plant being pulled from the ground, the vast difference in reactions (whether or not there is any reaction from a plant), will allow us to see the 'feeling' capacity. Even the suffering of a small worm is obvious. When I was a kid, my classmate cut up a worm while we were doing some gardening in the school's garden. The suffering the worm experience was obvious from it's twisting and body. It was the same when my cousin burnt a worm which attacked his plant :s

Third, even if plants can really recognize their family members like us, it would still be better if we quit eating animals or at least lessen our intake of meat. This is due to the massive consumption of plant foods required to raise an animal. That would definitely kill more plants as well.

7 comments:

Jackie said...

Totally amazing. Thanks for the interesting post.

Judith MacCaellich-Young said...

Interesting, and topical to us organic gardeners :)
Maybe this is the real origin of companion planting? When we interplant with flowers or other vegetables, we cause the root system to over compensate! My peas are now taller than I am, is this because they are next to broadbeans / fava beans?
Great post!
JudyMac

KleoPatra said...

Wow. Thank you for this post. Very, very good food for thought (no pun intended). Kudos for you for writing about this in a way that makes total sense...

dreamy said...

That's interesting JudyMac, I didn't thought of that! Maybe you can try to plant ur peas with themselves next time and see if they grow as big? :) [your story of going veg is indeed unique btw, if only everyone who got chikenpox will feel that way!]

Veggie Bun said...

I always thought, "What if plants can feel but they are not able to give us any reaction since they don't have a reflex system?"

But, I like your third reason. hehe...

dreamy said...

hahah... that's a good point! You can use the third point for this reason hahaha... anyway, one way or another, for us to live, plants (and animals) have to die, there's no other way. Unless hmm.. if we become breatharians and absorb nutrients from the air hehe

Veggie Bun said...

or absorb nutrients from the soil like plants..haha.

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