Opening hours today 10:00 - 17:00 Buy tickets Menu

how do plants hear?

how do plants hear?

It is important to be aware of your environment. You have to predict if there is danger nearby or if there is food in the vicinity. Just as we are able to react to things that happen around us, plants are able to respond to signals in their environment as well. They have to, their environment is changeable and they can’t go elsewhere or move away from the trouble. But what if plants are as blind and deaf as they seem to us? Or is something else going on?

Our hearing is nothing more than the perception of sound waves. Recent investigation suggests that plants can als perceive these waves.  A plant has no ears, but feels the vibrations of soundwaves and uses the soil or air as the sound medium. They can perceive the vibrations of running water or some even of the moving wings of insects. 

The sound of wings


A study in Tel Aviv revealed that at least one species of plant can hear: a primrose (Oenothera drummondii), a relative of the plant here at the Hortus. Within minutes of perceiving the vibrations from a bee’s wings, it increases the sugar content of its nectar. Sweeter nectar could attract more insects and so increase the chance of cross pollination. Most likely, the bowl shape of the flowers helps receiving and strengthening the sound waves.

Don’t smack your lips

Thale cress

A study at the University of Missouri-Columbia in the USA revealed that plants can detect when they are being attacked by herbivores. Scientists discovered this by placing caterpillars on thale cress (Arabidopsis thaliana). The experiment showed even that, not only the plant under attack but also similar plants in the vicinity of the chewing sound, increased their production of mustard oil. This mustard oil is their natural insect repellant.

Colour the Common evening rose

In June, the primrose will have beautiful yellow flowers.
Colour the flower with yellow pencils.

Download the picture here.


Colour the Thale cress

The Thale cress has small white flowers.
Which colour of flowers do you like best on this plant?

Download the picture here.