Thursday, April 04, 2013

Tree Hugging


The marshes in South Carolina were alive with color and pungent smells when I was there.  I could almost feel the pulse of renewed life as it moved across the water and grasses.  Then this past week I watched a program about plants, their blossoms, their root systems and their defense mechanisms that seemed to tie into what I was feeling.

Most people know that many plants can put out toxins to prevent complete eating of all of their leaves by a predator.  But did you know that they send out a gas that attracts the predators of the predator?  Did you know that they may evolve to form two types of blossoms to attract non-predator pollinators at different times of the day?  And even more amazing they can have two types of root systems.  One that is more conservative when they are growing next to young plants of their own progeny and one that is more aggressive when growing next to competitive plants of another species.  Some plants can also send out a toxin through the root system that kills the competitive roots of other plants.  Plants do not have a brain or nervous system...so how do they have this sentience...awareness of who they are and who other plants are?

One experiment where a radioactive carbon gas was injected into a sealed plastic bag that had been placed around the lowest branch of a tree proved days later that the radioactive nutrition that was absorbed by those leaves actually was distributed several feet away to other small trees of the same type.  There is a whole network of communication and nurture going on underground in the woods.

All I know is the next time I hug a tree, I will not feel so stupid.

14 comments:

Brian Miller said...

so very cool...and it does not surprise me the connectedness of nature...so much we can learn in its rhythms...

joeh said...

Absolutely facinating!

Mage said...

I watched Nature last night and was fascinated by the communication going on in the plant world.

Connie said...

Wow, what an interesting read!
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Linda Reeder said...

This is very interesting stuff. I like thinking about the intelligence behind the research and testing behind this knowledge. After hearing the daily news, it's good to know that there are smart people too, as well as smart trees.

Red said...

I heard a speaker on this topic just this week. Absolutely amazing stuff.

Peruby said...

You don't suppose they are smart enough to exact revenge on me for calling in the city to have my trees in the front yard cut down, do you?

Eerie music plays and while Peruby is busy tapping away on the keyboard she does not notice the roots coming up out of her floor boards headed straight for her naked, cold toes.

Arrggghhh!

Dave King said...

Brilliant stuff. The last item was the only one I knew. Fascinating! Thanks.

Celia said...

Plants are wondrous. No wonder there is so much energy in a walk in the woods.

Kat said...

Fascinating!

Except now I will feel like a murderer the next time one of my house trees or plants dies.

ellen abbott said...

obviously sentience doesn't come from the brain and yes, trees and other plants are sentient beings. we're finally accepting that other species of life are sentient which seems so obvious to me.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

Sure wish I had seen the program -- nature has many secrets! -- barbara

Kay said...

I'm going to go out and talk to my lemon tree right now. :-)

Dave said...

That's very interesting Tabor - Dave