The 2008 alternative (or "ridiculous") Nobel Peace Prize was awarded at Harvard University to the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity - and putting that into the Swiss constitution.
Switzerland is the only country in the world that by its constitution grants living beings (and since 2008 including plants) a inherent dignity. Most people, including the Swiss, couldn't help but laugh. Dignity to plants!? But the alternative Nobel Peace Prize is explicitly awarded to research or achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think.
So in this series of posts, let me dazzle you with some short stories on who plants are.
Can plants talk?
When a lima bean plant gets attacked by predatory insects, it starts producing a sweet nectar. This sweet nectar attracts ants that attack all insects, but do not eat the plant. At the same time, the plant excretes a fragrance that warns other lima beans of the impeding danger. They can identify the fragrance and immediately start producing the nectar as well to attract the ants preemptively.
Additionally, the lima bean sends out SOS fragrances to attract beneficial insects.
What is interesting is that the lima bean not only knows that it is being attacked, but also by whom. If it is attacked by spider mites, it sends out a fragrance to attract attack mites that get rid of the spider mites. If however a caterpillar is gnawing on the lima bean plant, it sends out a fragrance cocktail to attract parasitic wasps that get rid of the caterpillars.
The lima bean plant is able to recognise who she is attacking her by the saliva of the predator, allowing her to always call for the right "bodyguard" to protect her.
Scientists have now managed to identify a "vocabulary" of over 2000 fragrance produced by plants to communicate with their surrounding plants and animals. And we are just at the very beginning...
- This is an excerpt of the Book "Jenseits der Blattränder - Eine Annäherung an Pflanzen" by Florianne Koechlin.