MadSci Network: Botany

Re: I would like to know if plants have feelings, senses?

Date: Sat Jan 29 21:06:03 2000
Posted By: David Hershey, Faculty, Botany, NA
Area of science: Botany
ID: 949121022.Bt

Plants can sense light (phototropism, photomorphogenesis, photoperiodism) 
and gravity (gravitropism) and some can respond to touch (thigmotropism, 
thigmonasty) (Salisbury and Ross, 1985). As far as botanists have 
determined, plants do not have feelings, do not grow better when exposed to 
certain types of music, and cannot communicate with humans as claimed in 
the bestselling book "The Secret Life of Plants." Those claims have been 
debunked by real botanists (Hershey, 1995). Botany is unfortunately 
hampered by many misconceptions. However, the scientific aspects of plants 
are extremely fascinating, probably even more so than the false claims 
(Attenborough, 1995). 

Even nonvegetarians are indirectly eating plants because photosynthetic 
plants are at the base of our food chain. So we either eat plants directly 
or we eat animals that eat plants. Medical research has clearly shown that 
it is better for your health to eat a mostly vegetarian diet. It is also 
better for the environment because domestic animals pollute the environment 
with massive amounts of waste and eating animals is less efficient. The 
land area to support a human population eating plants is about one-tenth 
the area needed to support the same population that eats meat (Starr and 
McMillan, 1995). Strange as it seems, if you want to help plants, become a 

There are many opportunities if you want to help plants. You can support 
any of the following: conservation organizations, botanic gardens, 
arboretums, state parks, national parks, plant research at colleges and 
universities, efforts to save rainforests, efforts to fight weedy alien 
plants that are crowding out native species, and your town or city's shade 
tree commission. 


Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants. Princeton, NJ: Princeton 
University Press.

Hershey, D.R. 1995. Plant Biology Science Projects. New York: Wiley.

Salisbury, F.B. and Ross, C.W. 1985. Plant Physiology. Belmont, CA: 

Starr, C. and McMillan, B. 1995. Human Biology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth. 

Answer on thigmotropism:

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