Plants have a surprising capacity to communicate with their surroundings. If my last post gave you pause to think, then let me give you another couple of wonderful examples.
When an apple tree is being plagued by caterpillars of the winter moth (Operophthera brumata L.), it sends out a cocktail of scents to attract a bird called great tit. The birds smell the SOS signal and come to pick off the caterpillars. The bird gets a nice protein-rich snack, while the apple tree is free of his unwelcome visitor - a wonderful symbiosis. Find out more of Luisa Amo et al's research at the Department of Animal Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology.
Plants can also warn each other to prepare for drought. Omer Falik and his team at the Ben Gurion University in Be'er Scheva induced a drought on a row of beans. Within a short time, the plants would close the little openings on their leaves though which they breathe (stoma) so as to not lose any more water though evaporation - they are basically holding their breath until the next rain.
The neighbouring rows got enough water as usual. Yet within a very short time (15 minutes), they would also close their stoma. The beans communicated this information below ground, though signals sent though their expensive root network. The neighbouring beans could thus prepare for the drought before it even reached them.