90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
What The Petunia Knows

We’ll look at the new science of what plants feel, smell, see – and remember.

Orchid (Galileo55/Flickr)

Orchid (Galileo55/Flickr)

We ooh and ahh over flowers, fields of green, begonias, sequoias, even the humble petunia.  But it’s easy to underestimate a plant.  My guest today says it’s no use playing them Mozart.  They’re deaf as can be.  But by a whole lot of other measures, plants are wide awake and really  paying attention.

They can see when you come near them.  Feel when they’re touched.  Smell what’s going on around them, and respond.  And they remember.  In their own way, not entirely different from humans, they know what’s going on.  Tobacco.  Cherry.  Willow.  Chrysanthemum.

This hour, On Point:  what a plant knows.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Daniel Chamovitz,  director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University. He’s the author of a new book, What a Plant Knows: A Field Guide to the Senses. You can read an excerpt here.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal “Garden flowers have a sense of smell? I don’t think so. The vegetables growing in my backyard have an aversion to being touched? Surely not. Trees remember the weather? Now you are kidding. Daniel Chamovitz, the director of the Manna Centre for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University, is kidding no one. He aims to shock: “Think about this: plants see you,” reads the opening line of “What a Plant Knows.””

NPR “Ewww, you say. (I am assuming you are pro-tomato). But how do we know the vine is “smelling” that tomato plant? Enter Dr. Consuelo De Moraes, a biologist at Penn State. With her colleagues, she put the dodder plant to the test.”

Video: Growing Plants

Check out this video of tomato and dodder plants.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Nov 21, 2014
President Barack Obama announces executive actions on immigration during a nationally televised address from the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014.  (AP)

The president throws down the gauntlet on immigration. Bloodshed and new tensions in Israel. Keystone fails. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Nov 21, 2014
Laura Ingalls Wilder, an American  writer and novelist, at age 27. Her "Little House" series is a beloved semi-autobiographical take on her childhood in the Western American plains. (South Dakota State Historical Society )

A big new look at the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the woman behind the Little House.

RECENT
SHOWS
Nov 20, 2014
A shot from the AMC reality series, "Freakshow." (Jessica Brooks / AMC)

From TV to Broadway, circus sideshows — freak shows — are having a big cultural moment. What’s the history behind the comeback?

 
Nov 20, 2014
In this file photo, Hillsborough Sheriff deputy patrols outside the gate of JP Morgan Chase annual stockholders meeting held Tuesday, May 15, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. JP Morgan is one of several large financial institutions currently under investigation for alleged violation of Federal bankruptcy laws. (AP)

You’re supposed to have a clean slate after bankruptcy. But that’s not always true. We’ll ask what’s going on.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Explicast, Episode Six: What Does A White House Press Correspondent Do?
Friday, Nov 21, 2014

We turn to White House Press Correspondents all the time for news, but we’ve never really wondered how they gather their information. Fortunately, our guest host Jessica Yellin had time to sit down with The Explicast to explain.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: November 21, 2014
Friday, Nov 21, 2014

We offer a panel of hand-drawn digital sheep, and wonder how to best lead the rest of you to programs that matter.

More »
2 Comments
 
The Explicast, Episode Five: What Is Net Neutrality?
Friday, Nov 14, 2014

The Explicast dives into tech policy territory with a quick look at the real meaning of a complicated bit of tech policy known as ‘Net Neutrality.’

More »
2 Comments