Plants Can Feel Pain: Study Shows Plants Scream When They Are Cut Or Deprived Of Water

Image: New Africa / Shutterstock.com (Image used for illustration purposes only.)

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A common argument you’ll hear going on between a vegetarian and a meat lover would be as such:

“It’s so cruel to eat animals, you’re killing living things!”

“Aren’t plants living things as well?”

“But they won’t feel the pain!”

“…”

Well, neither of them is right here. You’ll be surprised, actually, for plants have also been found to be able to feel pain, like any other living thing.

What?

Image: Tenor

Yep, this is what you never learned in primary school Science.


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Plants Get Ouchies Too

Scientists at Tel Aviv University did a research study and found out that plants do indeed have the ability to feel pain, and emit distress signals whenever they undergo environmental stress. That’s not too different from us human beings either as we scream into the void or our pillow when the environment around us causes us stress too.

Image: Giphy

The study was conducted on tomato plants and tobacco plants in a controlled environment with microphones placed 10cm away from them. They were then tested by cutting off their stems and depriving them of water.

When that happened, the plants were recorded to emit a high-frequency distress signal in the form of an ultrasonic scream, ranging from 20 to 100 kilohertz. These sounds are believed to be a way for the plants to call out to other plants and organisms in the area.

By the way, the reason why we human beings cannot hear these screams when our plant babies are in pain is that it falls out of the range of human hearing frequency, which is only from 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz. So we can’t communicate with them, sadly.

Tomato plants emitted 25 of these ultrasonic screams over an hour when their stems were cut, and the tobacco plants similarly emitted 15 screams. The screams got more frequent when the plants were deprived of water, with the tomato plants emitting 35 sounds and the tobacco plants emitting 11 sounds. Well, that’s bound to hurt, of course!

For different kinds of environmental stress, they tend to let out different intensities of screams too. It was found that the tobacco plants screamed louder when they were deprived of water as compared to having their stems cut off.

Meanwhile, plants that had no immediate environmental stressors only made a sound less than once per hour. Maybe some of them were trying to chat.

This Will Help Farmers

The team believed that their findings could help farmers in precision agriculture, assisting them in identifying possible problems that the crops may have more accurately. By using a machine learning model and the data collected, they are able to predict what frequency of sounds plants may make when faced with problems such as strong winds or heavy rains.

“These findings can alter the way we think about the plant kingdom, which has been considered to be almost silent until now,” they wrote in their paper.

That’s pretty cool technology, honestly. It’s like raising a baby – when they cry, it means they’re hungry, but if they cry even louder, it probably means they need to change their diaper. You’ll then be able to find the problem based on the distress sounds they make and solve the problem accordingly.

Although you can’t hear what your plants are yelling about, hopefully they’re not yelling complaints about you as an owner, so treat your plants with better care because they have feelings too!

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