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Sound and Pollination

I read an interesting article that said that plants can detect sound. A researcher from Tel Aviv University wondered if plants could detect sound and increase their chance of pollination. What Lilach Hadany discovered is that plants, especially those who have cupped flowers, are able to pick up the vibration of pollinators such as bees.

When the plant picks up the potential pollinator’s wing vibration they work to increase the amount of sugar in their flowers, making themselves more attractive to the nearby pollinating insects. The sugar increase is temporary, as once fertilized, the flowers don’t need to attract the pollinators. Experiments were done with Evening primrose. Beach Evening Primrose (Oenothera drummondii) has a somewhat cup-shaped flower, which acts like funnels and dishes to detect and reflect sound. The researchers found that within 3 minutes of picking up the insect vibrations, the flower sugar levels increased from 12-17% to 20%. That is pretty amazing!

Further research has found that when a petal drops, the ability for picking up vibrations also drops, so that bloom will not “hear” an insect as well.

This is a whole new field in plant research called Phytoacoustics. I am sure more will be discovered as research continues.

First published: 08 July 2019

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