Do Plants Have Feelings and Can They Read Our Minds?


J C Bose, India’s first Biophysicist proved that plants have life

Jagdish Chandra Bose, India’s first biophysicist

Bose strongly believed that plants had a sensitive nervous system and that their responses to external stimuli could be measured and recorded. He had always been fascinated by the plant reactions seen in sensitive plants like the mimosa, which, when irritated, will react with the sudden shedding or shrinking of its leaves.

So, curious about the secret world of plants, he invented the Cresco graph, an early oscillating recorder using clockwork gears and a smoked glass plate to measure the growth and movements of plants in increments as small as 1/100,000 of an inch.

Determined to reveal the wonders of plant perception to the world, Bose described his experiments and their results in his 1902 paper, ”Responses in the Living and Non-Living”. He wrote how plants grew more quickly when exposed to nice music and gentle whispers, and poorly when exposed to harsh music and loud speech. He even mentioned how plants became depressed when exposed to polluted air and darkening skies. In short, his work showed that plants could feel pleasure and they could feel pain.

Over the decades, several scientists have given further weight to Bose’s theories that plants may not be as different from animals as previously thought.

Cleve Baxter conducting his experiment on plants with a polygraph

How plants sense and react is still somewhat unknown. They don’t have nerve cells like humans, but they do have a system for sending electrical signals and even produce neurotransmitters, like dopamine, serotonin and other chemicals the human brain uses to send signals.

Michael Pollan, author of such books as “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “The Botany of Desire,” says plants have all the same senses as humans, and then maybe something more. In addition to hearing and taste,  they can sense gravity, the presence of water, or even feel that an obstruction is in the way of its roots, before coming into contact with it. Plant roots will shift direction, he says, to avoid obstacles.

Researchers, says Pollan, have played a recording of a caterpillar munching on a leaf to plants — and the plants react. They begin to secrete defensive chemicals — even though the plant isn’t really threatened, Pollan says. “It is somehow hearing what is to it, a terrifying sound of a caterpillar munching on its leaves.”

A person in America who specializes in electronic studies and teaches others how to use lie detectors put both ends of a lie detector to a dragon pot plant and watered its roots. He then found that the lie detector’s electronic pen had quickly drawn a curve. This curve was identical to that drawn when the human brain produces a brief second of excitement or happiness.

One time he placed two plants together and asked his student to stomp one plant to death in front of the other plant. Then he took the other plant into a room and connected it to a lie detector. He asked five of his students to enter the room in turn from the outside. The plant had no reactions when the first four students entered the room. When the fifth student who had trampled the plant came into the room, before he even walked up to the plant, the electronic pen quickly drew a curve that only appears when a person is frightened.

We can conclude that since plants have life we should be gentle with them and respect them as living beings. If the compassion in you emerges, you will be kind to all living beings.