Can Plants Hear?

SCIENCE

Pseudoscientific claims that music helps plants grow have been made for decades, despite evidence that is shaky at best. Yet new research suggests some flora may be capable of sensing sounds, such as the gurgle of water through a pipe or the buzzing of insects. (Scientific American)

It’s a great time to play ‘Viridi’—and vocally tend your garden!

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit. Heads-up: There are a lot of great links in today’s post!

Don’t tell secrets in a corn field. It’s full of ears. “Ear” comes from the ancient European word “aeher” which meant “spike of grain.”
Photograph by Steve Raymer, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

 

  • OK, so what is sound?
    • Sound is a series of vibrations created by waves of pressure (sound waves) and transmitted through a medium such as air or water.
      • In space, no one can hear you scream.” That’s actually true. In the near-vacuum of outer space, there is no medium to transmit sound. (If you find yourself in interstellar space trying to scream, however, you have bigger problems than acoustics.)

 

  • Why would it be a surprise if plants could hear?
    • Corny jokes aside, plants don’t have ears.
    • Many scientists are skeptical that plants have structural organs that allow them to detect and process sound waves.

 

 

TEACHERS TOOLKIT

Scientific American: Can Plants Hear?

Nat Geo: Game of the Week: Viridi

Encyclopedia of Life: What is a Plant?

2 responses to “Can Plants Hear?

  1. Pingback: My, What Big Leaves You Have | Nat Geo Education Blog·

  2. So, did you mean sound waves as hearing? This is very interesting fact about plants. I never read anything like that before. Thanks for sharing.

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