Do Plants Scream When They Are Cut?

Have you ever heard of a plant screaming?

Photo by Edoardo Busti on Unsplash

While we talk about scream/pain and tears, none of us have ever seen the tears or heard any sound of a plant. But to our shock, plants do show sense of feeling. They tend to produce gums, resins, latex and so on when they are cut while some produce such gums naturally due to various environmental factors.

It may seem absurd since we do not have any natural evidence regarding this matter but researchers found an ultrasonic ‘scream’ is emitted when stems are cut or if species are not watered enough.

Here are some researches that could be helpful.

  • A team of scientists at Tel Aviv University have discovered that some plants emit a high frequency distress sound when they undergo environmental stress. The researchers tested tomato plants and tobacco plants by depriving them of water and by cutting their stems and then recording their response with a microphone placed ten centimeters away. In both cases, they found the plants began to emit ultrasonic sounds between 20 and 100 kilohertz, which they believed could convey their distress to other plants and organisms in the immediate vicinity.

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  • Also a study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed that when a plant is injured, they release a nervous system-like signal throughout their body, similar to the pain response found in humans and other animals.

Plants don’t have nervous systems but video captured by the scientists behind this new study of injured plants shows that they do have their own version of fight-or-flight when they come under attack.

Because they lack a nervous system, plants don’t have neurotransmitters, but they do still have glutamate. In the video, a plant is bitten by a caterpillar and releases glutamate at the bite site. This activates a calcium wave to rush through the plant’s entire body, which then triggers the plant to release their own stress hormone.

Plants may not have eyes, ears, tongue or skin but they can perform many of the same functions. They even respond to rainy and windy weather!

Although it is pretty early for us to actually ‘hear’ the sound of a plant being cut, it is clearly known from the experiments (those I have mentioned and many more) that plants are technically showing responses to the external surroundings. Lets just hope we can get fullproof evidences in the coming days.

An overwhelming start to the triumph.