In search of "strange" plant

SMeissne at AOL.COM SMeissne at AOL.COM
Fri Oct 16 22:40:10 EST 1998

There has been some discussion about finding a plant that could respond to

I wanted to first point out that responses to sound by biological systems have
been published in
the scientific literature.  Here are two examples, one at the subcellular
level and the
other on the whole plant level:

Pohl P., E. Rosenfeld, R. Millner- 1993-Effects of ultrasound on the steady-
transmembrane pH gradient and the permeability of acetic acid through bilayer
membranes- Biochem et Biophys Acta  1145:  279-283

Weinberger P., M. Measures- 1968-The effect of two audible sound frequencies
on the
germination and growth of a spring and winter wheat- Canadian J. of Botany 46:

I think that the Canadian Journal of Botany is a "reputable science journal".
I have read this 
article and am convinced by the data presented that a response to different
sound treatments could
be concluded.  Sadly this sort of good controled work has not been done in
other species, or under
under conditions.  This seems just the sort of thing that make for some fun
class experiments.  
Several experiments could be done modeled on the methods used in the above
article.  I'd encourage
those who are interested to read this article and see if they can reproduce
the observations in wheat or
other species.

One suggested plant to test for sensitivity to sound was Mimosa pudica, the
sensitive plant.
One thing that this plant displays in its response to stimuli is habituation.
This was demonstrated in
Mimosa pudica quite dramatically when some specimens became so used to being
buffetted by
typhoon winds that they simply did not respond any more.  This was reported in
the following 

Toriyama H- 1966-The behaviour of the sensitive plant in a typhoon-  The
botanical magazine  79:  427-428

So if you are going to test for response to sound be careful that the plant
has not habituated to the 
stimulus.  And allow enough time between tests for it to recover fully.  For
more on habituation in
Mimosa pudica you might wish to look at the following:

Simons P- 1992-The action plant.  Movement and nervous behaviour in plants.
Blackwell Press, Cambridge.  323 pgs.  ISBN:  0-631-13899-4

Hope that helps,....
                        but really, aren't ALL plants somewhat strange??

Scott T. Meissner

smeissne at

Aure Entuluva!

On 10/16/98 Ross Koning (koning at wrote: 

\The suggestions about Mimosa pudica are on target...
\if the vibrations are of sufficient magnitude, the
\leaflets will fold.  Crank up the bass and volume
\and those plants will respond!

\As for the TV shows and Mr. Baker, well not all
\"science" is good science. Except for seismonasty
\in species like M. pudica, there are no articles
\on sound perception or musical tastes of plants
\in reputable science journals.  Some trade books
\and even some educational texts and software have
\given projects on musical appreciation by plants
\more respectability that is deserved.  It is a good
\example of "not everything you read in print is
\to be believed."

\If any of you are teachers out there on this
\mail-list, PLEASE do not direct students toward
\class projects or science fair studies on the
\effect of music on plants.  There is so much more
\interesting to test...and much of it really works!
\David Hershey has a good book on Plant Biology
\Science Projects (J Wiley) contains much
\good advice on this topic.


At 8:38 AM -0400 10/15/98, Jeremy Lee iment
>involving plants and music.  The basis of the experiment was to have several
>groups of the same plant (forget which one, but I don't think it mattered
>to the
>experiment) and play different types of music to each.  Other than the music,
>each plant group had identical soil, water, light, and fertilizer.
>As I recall, the plant group that was played Rock 'N Roll did the best.  The
>group that had no music at all (the control group) did worst.  I can't
>if Jazz beat Classical....
>Anyway, I don't think that this is exactly what you're looking for (you
>want an
>"immediate" plant reaction, not "long-term", right?), but it does show plants
>are sensative to sound vibrations.
>Derek H. wrote:
>> I am searching for any type of plant that is sensitive to sound waves. I am
>> doing science experiments to demonstrate sound vibrations.
>> I don't know if such a plant exists...I am hoping it does.
>> The ideal plant would be one that would pick up sensitive sounds (much like
>> a microphone), and vibrate the sounds with a delayed reaction.
>> Any and all help/comments are greatly appreciated.
>> Thanks
>> Derek H.
>> derekh at

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