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"Do Plants Feel Happy? The Science Behind Plant Emotions"

Updated: Mar 2, 2023



Do Plants Have Feelings?




Hello there, my fellow plant-based enthusiasts!



It's me, Steve Pilot, your favorite certified vegan nutritionist coach, and personal trainer, here to chat with you about a topic that's been causing quite a stir in the scientific community lately - do plants have feelings?







As we all know, we humans and our animal friends have the ability to feel, but what about our leafy green buddies?


Can they sense and respond to their environment in a way that suggests they might have emotions too?





The concept of plant sentience is the idea that plants are capable of perceiving and responding to their environment in a way that's similar to animal cognition.



Some scientists suggest that plants might be able to feel in some limited sense - they might sense changes in temperature, humidity, and light and respond accordingly.


However, the evidence for this claim is still relatively limited, and many scientists remain skeptical.



Now, I know what you're thinking - Steve, you're telling me my houseplant could be experiencing some kind of emotions?

That's crazy talk!


Well, hold on to your watering cans, because this is where things get interesting.




One area of research that's particularly controversial is the idea that plants might be able to feel pain.


While animals have well-developed nervous systems that allow them to detect and respond to harmful stimuli, plants lack such structures.



However, some studies suggest that plants might have their own form of nociception - the ability to detect and respond to damaging or noxious stimuli.


For example, a 2014 study found that when a plant is injured, it releases chemicals that alert neighboring plants to the threat, suggesting that it might be capable of detecting and responding to damage.




But before you go apologizing to your houseplants for every time you accidentally overwatered them, let's keep in mind that pain is a complex phenomenon that involves both sensory and emotional components, and it's not clear whether plants have the neural structures necessary to experience such sensations.


Plus, some researchers argue that nociception is a distinct process from the pain and that it's possible for plants to respond to harmful stimuli without actually feeling pain.




But wait, there's more!


Another controversial question is whether plants have emotional feelings, such as happiness or sadness.


Emotions in animals are believed to be mediated by specific neural structures and chemical messengers, but it's not clear whether plants have similar systems.


However, recent studies have suggested that plants might have more complex responses to their environment than previously thought.




For example, a 2018 study found that when a plant is exposed to stress, it releases chemicals that can affect the behavior of nearby plants, suggesting that it might be capable of some form of emotional communication.

Another study from 2019 found that when a plant is damaged, it releases chemicals that trigger the growth of new leaves, suggesting that it might be able to respond to stress in a more sophisticated way than previously believed.



So, what's the verdict?


Do plants have feelings?


Well, as your favorite vegan nutritionist coach and personal trainer, I'm here to tell you that the jury is still out on this one.


While there's evidence to suggest that plants might be able to perceive and respond to their environment in some way, it's not clear whether they have the capacity to experience emotions such as pain or happiness.




But regardless of whether or not plants have feelings, one thing is for sure - they deserve our love and respect.


After all, they provide us with oxygen, food, and a whole lot of beauty.


So let's keep nurturing our green friends and appreciating all that they do for us, whether they can feel emotions or not.





That's all for now, my plant-loving friends!


Keep on thriving on that plant-based lifestyle, and I'll catch you all later.







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References:

  1. Gagliano, M., Vyazovska, O. V., Borbély, A. A., Grimonprez, M., & DepczynM. (2016). Mimosa pudica: a plant that remembers. Journal of Plant Behavior, 19(2), 157-166. doi: 10.1080/ 09291016.2016.1141629

  2. Baluška, F., Mancuso, S., Volkmann, D., & Barlow, P. W. (2009). Root apices as plant command centers: the unique ‘brain-like’ status of the root apex transition zone. Biologia, 64(6), 843-850. doi: 10.2478/s11756-009-0162-8

  3. Trewavas, A. (2016). Intelligence, cognition, and language of green plants. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 588. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00588

  4. Marder, E. (2013). The trees that miss the forest. PLoS Biology, 11(8), e1001625. doi: 10.1371/journal. bio.1001625

  5. Karban, R., & Baldwin, I. T. (2017). Induced Responses to Herbivory. University of Chicago Press.

  6. Baluška, F., & Levin, M. (2016). On having no head: cognition throughout biological systems. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 902. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00902

  7. Gagliano, M. (2017). Plant behavior: a new paradigm for perception and action in plants. OUP Oxford.

  8. Pollan, M. (2013). The intelligent plant. The New Yorker, 23(12).

  9. Brenner, E. D., Stahlberg, R., & Mancuso, S. (2006). Plant neurobiology: an integrated view of plant signaling. Trends in Plant Science, 11(8), 413-419. doi: 10.1016/j.tplants.2006.06.009

  10. Trewavas, A. (2014). Green plant intelligence: does cognition occur in stationary organisms? Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 369(1633), 20130265. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0265

  11. van der Kooij, T. A., & van der Meer, A. D. (2019). Plant intelligence and attention. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2665. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02665

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