Do Plants Recognize Siblings

We are all familiar with our siblings. We can recognize our brothers and sisters even after years of not seeing them. We can also recognize other members of our families after an introduction or two. So can a number of animals but that really surprises few people but what does surprise is the fact that plants can recognize their siblings.

No, plants have no eyes or ears like we nor do they have brains so a lack of these otherwise vital things can make us wonder just how plants can recognize their siblings. Scientists in Canada at McMaster University in 2007 found that when plants of different parents are introduced into the same pot they grow longer roots in an attempt to take minerals and water away from the competing plant. The same was not true of plants from the same parents. It seemed that they were more than happy to share the pot with their siblings and thus they both grew happily ever after after.

Now a group from the University of Delaware has shown how this is possible, for all you non-believers. Reporting in the journal Communicative & Integrative Biology earlier this year, the researchers have shown just how plants use various chemicals to determine just who is sharing the growing space with them.

Science types from McMaster University have duplicated the University of Delaware study with similar results. We now know that plants prefer living next to their relatives but we also know why. What does this mean for gardeners? Many gardeners know this already because they have spent so much time with all their plants. Many household flower growers could take heed of this in order to grower larger flowers.

Other than growing larger flowers in the home of what use is all this plant knowledge? It could help to produce larger yields of various farm fruits or grains. This knowledge could help 3rd world farmers increase their yields significantly. Increased yields could, of course, feed more people which would benefit all of us.

Some might ask if the money spent on all of these scientific experiments is truly worthwhile. On the surface perhaps there is some validity to wondering that but, as with all esoteric scientific studies, we may never know until far in the future when other scientists build on this. Until then maybe it’ll help you grow happier, healthier and larger flowering plants in your home.