Plants Can Tell When They’re Being Eaten


“Eating a leaf off a plant may not kill it, but that doesn’t mean the plant likes it. The newest study to examine the intelligence (or at least behavior) of plants finds that plants can tell when they’re being eaten – and send out defenses to stop it from happening.”


From the article:

“…the study showed that when the plants felt or heard the caterpillar-munching vibrations, they sent out extra mustard oils into the leaves. When they felt or heard other vibrations? Nothing. It’s a far more dynamic defense than scientists had realized: the plant is more aware of its surroundings and able to respond than expected.”


Plants are not “aware,” do not “hear” or “feel.” They have finely-tuned defense mechanisms.


…now how in the world do plants identify numbers? Because if the caterpillar taps have similar vibrations -then that’s mathematics.


Chemicals react to one another, without any intelligence. To be sure the reaction of these plants to caterpillars is remarkable; but it could simply be that they are programmed to react that way, like a computer, directly by God or through a process of evolution. They need not be sentient to react.


There are several high-visibility groups pressing society to abandon all meat and meat-related products. So now that we think plants are sentient, what is there left for us to eat? All tofu all the time?


No that wouldn’t work either.Tofu is made from soy beans, surely they have feeling too:rolleyes:


Eeeeewwwwwww! :frowning:


If you missed the documentary, Food, Inc. :

         **FOOD, INC.**  *“If you knew the truth of what you were eating, you wouldn’t eat it,” states Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Robert Kenner in his film about the industrialization of food production.*

Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma, is one of the key experts whose research underpins the film’s thesis. After seeing this film I can attest to my reluctance to consider ever eating ground meat again. Unless it is labeled organic, the film establishes that it is almost certainly “mystery meat.
More at:****

Interview with Food, Inc. filmmaker, Robert Keller:****

In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that’s been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won’t go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli — the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults.*
Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (“Fast Food Nation”), Michael Pollan (“The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield Farms’ Gary Hirschberg and Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals surprising — and often shocking truths — about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.*

Update on Food, Inc.


How can an organism without a central nervous system determine anything???


Plant defense against herbivory or host-plant resistance (HPR) describes a range of adaptations evolved by plants which improve their survival and reproduction by reducing the impact of herbivores. Plants can sense being touched,[1] and they can use several strategies to defend against damage caused by herbivores. Many plants produce secondary metabolites, known as allelochemicals, that influence the behavior, growth, or survival of herbivores. These chemical defenses can act as repellents or toxins to herbivores, or reduce plant digestibility.

Read more at:****

Herbivory is the consumption of plant tissues by animals. This usually has a negative impact on plant growth and reproduction, and so imposes natural selection on plants, thereby favoring the evolution of traits that reduce losses (defenses). ** Plants have developed physical defenses that reduce the likelihood of herbivory.*

Read more:[LEFT]


Yes, yes, and leaves turn colors in the fall and fall off of trees…and onions make my eyes water…

The OP said that “Eating a leaf off a plant may not kill it, but that doesn’t mean the plant likes it”

Again…an organism without a central nervous system does not “like or dislike” anything.


But there is a reactive action that takes place. …and for a reaction to take place, there must be stored energy being ‘held’ in perpetration for such an event.

So what force causes a plant to hold stored energy and then release it after an event takes place -since the term “determination” is out.


I ate a salad last night. I thought I heard something…

(Ow! Ow! Dang it, stop!)

Plants are amazing. They can send information via chemical signals. Some insects can detect a plant or tree ‘under attack’ and head that way to take advantage of the situation, so to speak. Microbes are a big threat and one plants can respond to more easily. Fungi can also pose a threat.

Plants have protective mechanisms (think of poison oak and poison ivy) to protect themselves against predation. Thorns, foul taste, and irritating oils discourage animals from consuming them. Trees can utilize new tactics or change to respond to an attack from insects or microbes. Of course, these things happen over a longer period of time. A person with a chainsaw is not something even the most sophisticated tree could have any defense against.

Think of the cells in your body. You do not spend time directing the complex biochemical reactions that take place. These processes are regulated by your cells, or a group of cells in direct contact (communication) with each other. Every single movement of your body depends on an extremely rapid response of chemicals flowing from one nerve cell to another until it reaches it’s destination, which is the muscle cells which stretch or contract accordingly. These tiny changes in cations and anions allow your movement, yet you don’t need to think this process through. For reflex actions, these processes don’t even reach the central nervous system.

The natural world is full of amazing discoveries. Every little new piece of information is like taking a peek at God’s desk.


The Internet begs to differ with you.


The premise of both the movie and Michael Pollan’s message isn’t that eating meat is wrong, but rather, bad farming practices which promote inhumane treatment of animals by the large agricultural industry is the problem.

Michael Pollan had no problem with farms which raise cattle and chickens for food in a humane way. He visited them, worked on them and ate the food they produced.

Pollan also has concerns that 80% of the corn produced in the USA is controlled by just three large corporations.



:rotfl: I don’t agree with the internet 50% of the time and out of that 50% I am right 49%.

You linked to a definition of “anthropomorphism”. Nowhere in the definition does it say that organisms without a brain or central nervous system have the ability to "like or “dislike” anything. Nowhere does it offer any proof that plants know when they are being eaten.

I am amazed by the variation and adaptability that the Creator designed into plant life. It is truly remarkable. I am stunned, however, by those who try to “humanize” vegetation. Too many Disney movies or maybe it was the apple trees in the “Wizard of Oz”…who knows?

Plants do not think…they react.

Now if a Venus Fly Trap FEELS genuine remorse for the poor little fly it just ate…then I may have to change my opinion.


Like members of Congress? :stuck_out_tongue:


Try eating a venus fly trap, you can tell when it’s eating you.


You beast! You’re supposed to kill it before you eat it. :stuck_out_tongue:

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit