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Have you ever wondered if plants can make noise? The question may never have crossed your mind, but the answer may surprise you. Research has shown us that plants do, in fact, react to sounds, and most recently, we learned that they make noise in response to distress! So, can dogs hear plants scream? Listen close because we’re about to find out.
- Plants make noise in response to distress.
- Dogs and other animals might be able to hear these ultrasonic frequencies.
- Plants communicate in various ways, such as responding to touch, calling for help when they are in distress, and listening to each other.
- Knowing how plants interact and communicate with their surroundings could inform agricultural precision in the future, leading to better irrigation and increased water conservation.
How do we know plants make noise?
Until recently, the general consensus was that we had no reason to believe plants were anything but silent. Still, one team of researchers set out to prove otherwise.
Researchers recorded tomato and tobacco plants doing their thing. Then, they recorded the plants after cutting them or allowing them to experience drought.
It turns out plants were harmed in the making of this study.
The researchers focused on the ultrasonic sound range of 20-150 kHz. They tested the plants in a few controlled settings, including an acoustic box and a greenhouse, for conditions closer to nature but still potentially impacted by the elements. They trained a neural network to use machine learning to distinguish between any other present sounds.
They recorded watered plants within a day of watering or five days after. They also recorded tomato plants after ten days. Watered plants made very few sounds, slowly increasing through the 4-6 day mark, then decreasing as they dried. According to Scientific American, wheat, corn, and wine grapes also make noise when thirsty.
The researchers found that the process of cavitation, whereby air bubbles form and explode in the xylem, causes plants to make a sound.
Why Do Plants Make Noise, and What Does It Mean?
Plants make noise when they are thirsty or stressed. According to Frantisek Baluska, a plant biologist, “[Plants are] living organisms which have their own problems, maybe something like humans feeling pain or joy.”
This information could inform agricultural processes in the future, leading to ideal irrigation conditions and increased water conservation.
The noise could affect how insects interact with plants and how plants defend themselves against predators.
Can Dogs Hear These Ultrasonic Frequencies?
So, we haven’t exactly gone around asking dogs if they can hear plants “scream.” But we know they have a wide hearing range, from 67-45,000 Hz.
Some dog breeds have especially keen hearing, including Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, and Cocker Spaniels.
Theoretically, dogs could hear plants making noise, but it might be tough to distinguish from other sounds, especially from far away. And even if they can hear it, do they really care or understand what’s happening?
Plus, with all the other background noise in our lives, it’s easy to tune things out. Think about it – you probably hear all kinds of sounds right now without even realizing it. If you’re outside, there’s wind, water, and traffic noise. Inside, there’s the whirr of your fridge, the hum of your laptop fan, and maybe even the sound of pipes in another room. It’s a lot!
It is interesting to consider whether certain plants have developed ways to warn dogs away or defend themselves from our furry friends. But who knows – that’s a mystery for another day!
How Do Other Animals Respond To Plant Sounds?
Tomato plants emit ultrasonic frequencies that some mammals and insects can pick up from 3-5 meters away. It’s an interesting phenomenon that has led to discussions about how bats, mice, and moths might live in a world full of these sounds.
However, Graham Pyke, a retired biologist at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, has suggested that it’s unlikely that these animals can actually hear the sounds from far away. He told Scientific American, “It is unlikely that these animals can hear the sound at such distances.” So, while it’s a fascinating topic, it may have less impact on our animal friends than we initially thought.
How Do Plants Communicate?
Plants can communicate in several ways.
- Respond to touch
- Call for help when in distress
- Listen to each other
- Defend their territory
- Recognize their siblings
- Communicate with mammals
Flowers have also been known to increase nectar production in response to the sound of pollinators.
Can Humans Hear Plants Scream?
No, humans cannot hear plants scream — at least not with our naked ears.
The human hearing range is most sensitive to frequencies of 1,000 to 4,000 hertz and can detect sounds between about 20 to 20,000 in total.
An exhibit at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, called “Sonic Succulents,” once featured a line of potted cacti, succulents, and palm plants with tiny microphones and headphones. Visitors could touch the plants and listen to the vibrations they produced, but this was less about communication and more about the sounds plants make when they grow.
Scream and Sprout and Let It Out
So, can dogs hear plants scream? The answer is… maybe. While plants do make noise in response to distress, it’s unlikely that dogs can hear it from a distance or pay much attention. But who knows – maybe certain plants have developed ways to warn dogs away or defend themselves from our furry friends.
Understanding how plants interact and communicate with their surroundings can influence everything from farming and agricultural research to water conservation. And if nothing else, it’s fascinating to think about the next time you mow the lawn or neglect your houseplants.
Maybe someday, we’ll figure out how to better communicate with plants or dogs. Whoever we reach first can tell us more.