It was 1901 when Jagadish Chandra Bose established the fact that plants have lives. It was he who instilled a new and proven thought that plants have vital functions like any other animal. They have definite life cycles, and reproductive systems and are aware of their surroundings.
Pointing to this fact, do plants have senses? Can they listen to sounds the way we do? Can they respond the way animals do? We all know that plants are silent and they grow very slowly. Their movements are not visible most of the time. How they can respond to such external stimuli? Let us find out the scientific answers and facts related to these questions.
When we talk about senses, we consider sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste as the five common types prevailing in animals. These senses have developed in different forms due to the evolution and adaptation of species to understand the environment by seeking information. All the senses are linked to the CPU of the central nervous system or the brain.
Advanced or primitive, these senses are connected to a central processing unit to analyse the stimuli collected and to send the right response accordingly. Now the real question arises. Plants neither have brains nor sense organs. Is it possible that they are senseless? If yes then how they can find their way to the sunlight? How their roots can find out the exact location of a water source?
We can clearly understand that plants do respond to external stimuli but in a different way than animals do. Let us find out the secret behind the plants have nervous system different from animals by analysing the different types of senses.
Charles Darwin, the Father of Evolution, experimentally showed that plants can sense the direction of light. Even though plants do not have any sense organ to check the light source, they can still find a way to grow towards it and grab a higher amount of light for survival.
Now, let us delve deeper. Plants have photoreceptor cells that can trap light to form energy and carry on photosynthesis. These cells are present in the green leaves, young branches and stems of plants. These cells can measure the intensity of the light falling on them. They can also understand how far the light source is and where they can get the maximum light. So, do plants have sense organs? Well, they have something different from animals.
All higher animals have a good sense of taste. They have tongues to taste and chew food. Do plants have something that does the same thing? Now, think it this way. Plants can move or grow their roots towards water sources. They can also detect rich chemical sources and can even trace the required ones.
The roots can decide which chemicals are good and what threats they are facing. They cannot take drastic measures but can control their growth and ensure the best things are absorbed in the process. This is very important for the safety of the plants.
We can prove the existence of plant intelligence. They are not just living cells bundled up to form organisms. Plants can recognise and perceive the location of all sensory parts such as the leaves, branches, stems, roots, flowers, fruits, etc present in them. This sensing of body parts is called proprioception.
Consider this example. We intentionally move our hands when an insect is disturbing us. We retrace our feet when we step on something sharp. Similarly, we can easily dodge obstacles that can harm us. Plants also show the same capabilities but in a crude way. They can easily coordinate the growth of leaves, branches, stems, roots, and other parts according to the requirement.
It means that a plant can maintain harmony and coordination in growing its different parts. It enables them to balance their entire system. For instance, a big banyan tree is much heavier than we think. It will grow in such a way that it will not lose it balance and fall.
Tendrils Sensing Support and Growing
It has been recently found that plants can feel vibrations. They can listen to sounds made by insects and can even respond accordingly. Using modern instruments, researchers even concluded that plants like classical music more than rock and roll. So, do plants have emotions as they can process sound to some extent? Well, no, they do not have the brains to process and show emotions. But, they can feel.
Well, plants do not have pain receptors as we do. Hence, they don’t feel pain but they can respond to stress, trauma, etc. Plants feel and we can prove it by picking examples of insectivorous plants. Touch me not droops down when touched. This is a response plants have developed. So, do plants have feelings? No, they don’t but they have certain ways to respond to stimuli.
By using these crude forms of senses, as mentioned above, they can make certain decisions. The hormones released in their tissues can control the growth and development of cells. They can respond to permanent changes in the environment to adjust and survive.
Considering all these examples of how plants can feel a few things, we can clearly suggest that plants have consciousness. They cannot move like animals but they still show certain features that tell us how conscious they are about their environment or habitat.
They take measures to adjust to their habitats when there is a significant change. They also heal their organs when damaged. Plants are no less than living organisms. They respond using their senses to survive.