Fun Fact: Plants and stress

May 5, 2022

Fun Fact: Your distressed house plants are living out a silent horror movie.

A team of researchers at Tel Aviv University has recorded “high frequency distress sounds” emitted from tobacco and tomato plants. After stressing the plants by cutting their stems and depriving them of water (rude), the researchers recorded their responses with a microphone. In both cases they found the plants emitted ultrasonic sounds between 20 and 100 kilohertz, which they suggested conveyed their distress to other plants and organisms in the immediate vicinity.

The plants seemed to respond with different intensities of sound to different sources of stress. The team observed that tobacco plants “screamed” louder when they were deprived of water than when they had their stems cut. They believe that listening for sounds emitted by plants could help with precision agriculture and identify problems with crops.

If you’re interested in more reading, their paper can be found here:

But take it with a grain of salt… or a tablespoon because it was not published in a peer-reviewed journal.