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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Plant Social Life

This is not in the normal realm of what I write about, but I am an amateur botanist and all things botanic do interest me. It is also an interesting lesson in experimentation. Back in the 70s there were many articles that suggested that plants reacted to social stimulation from people. It turned out that the cause-effect relationship was being misapplied and it was debunked. Now in Wired, an article suggests that plants communicate socially and certain plants, especially invasive ones, recognize their own kin and promote their growth. Sort of a a social networking of plants. The journal this was published in seems legitimate enough, but I would be very cautious about this kind of causal analysis and wait for multiple replications before I bought it. I have grown many invasive ground covers, and based on their behavior you certainly want to believe this causal chain. All the more reason to be extra cautious.

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