Credit: Wendy | <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode"> Flickr </a>

A few months ago, I shared this link from Modern Farmer that explains how plants communicate. (They can even scream.)

On a related note, check out the above video, which addresses a long-running debate among scientists as to whether plants can feel pain.

So can they? Kind of, it turns out. Plants — like the Mimosa, or “sensitive plant” — can react to stimulus. In this video, the Mimosa shrinks at the touch of the anaesthetist’s prodding.

But when she doses it with ether, the plant stops reacting. (Did she just kill the plant? The video doesn’t say.)

It’s clear that plants have electrical signals, and that anesthesia stops those currents. But scientists aren’t really saying that plants can feel pain, per se.

For one thing, they don’t have neurons, which make up the nervous system.

But that doesn’t mean that they don’t feel, in their own way.

“They have analagous structures,” author Michael Pollan told PRI. “They have ways of taking all the sensory data they gather in their everyday lives … integrate it and then behave in an appropriate way in response. And they do this without brains, which, in a way, is what’s incredible about it, because we automatically assume you need a brain to process information.”

Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the...