Did you know, from fungus to frogspawn, dandelions to defence systems, plants have a whole secret world that goes unnoticed.
The secret life of plants is weird and wonderful. Within this world, there are things we can’t even begin to imagine possible. Plants that can communicate, hold magical healing properties and even adapt in life-threatening situations.
Here are five fantastic ways in which the plant world has kept us in shock n’ awe and wanting more!
- Sound the alarm
Within the world of plants there is evidence that they secretly talk to each other. And of those capable of using this ability to defend themselves, the willow has no rival. Not only does the willow, when under attack, produce defensive chemicals, but so do all the other willows nearby.
Studies published in 1983 found that willow trees, poplars and sugar maples can warn each other about oncoming attacks from insects… Undamaged trees near to ones that are under attack will begin releasing bug-repelling chemicals to help ward off a potential attack on them!
2. Growing immunity
Phytoncide is a substance emmitted by plants & trees produced to help them protect themselves from harmful insects and germs.
What’s more, this substance has been reported to enhanced human natural killer cell activity as well as anti-cancer proteins. Findings indicate that phytoncide exposure and decreased stress hormone levels may partially contribute to better health, so a walk in the woods is literally good for your body.
3. Strive to survive
Over years of evolution, much like us humans, plants have learnt to adapt in order to survive.
Tropical pitcher plants have distinctive adaptations for living in nutrient-poor soils. These carnivorous plants have a pitcher-shaped body with a pool of water in it. Visiting insects will slide into the pitcher and often meet a watery fate. The plant then dissolves the insect and uses it for food.
4. Defying science
Plants have proven, much like humans, they can defy the laws of science. The Strangler Fig plant grows both up and down. It leeches off of other plants and in order to reach sunlight they grow upward but also grow down to rob the roots of nutrients!
And, though plants may drive you up the wall, they can also grow on them! Vertical gardens, where plants grow out of walls, are becoming ever-popular to maximise space.
But it’s not just gravity that’s being manipulated for a plant’s own use. Some plants, like the hammer orchid, have adapted to manipulate reproductive habits for their own benefit.
Pollinated by wasps, this orchid flower cleverly resembles an insect and releases the sex pheromone so that male wasps try to mate with it. The male’s momentum triggers a hinged mechanism in the flower to swing him upside down and onto the reproductive systems, which means success for the flower!
5. Condition-less cultivation
When we think of growing plants, we think of them needing ground to grow in, water to drink and sunlight …But what of the plant’s that learnt to grow without these things?
Air plants are so named because they attach themselves to surfaces rather than growing in soil, gathering the majority of their nutrients from the air around them.
When it comes to the sun, some plants have lost the need to photosynthesis altogether. Orobanche (broomrape) plants have no chlorophyll and get all their nutrients by parasitically attaching to the roots of nearby plants instead.
There’s a whole world out there of plant wonder and, if you take a look closely at the plants you see everyday, you will begin to see just how resilient, versatile, surprising and savvy plants can be!
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
Leave A Comment