Nature is Still Amazing By Brian Simpson

Despite social breakdown and the dysfunction of human society, nature is still wonderful. Flowers can detect bees buzzing around, and thus make their nectar sweeter.

Flowers are the “ears” of plants, scientists discover! And these ears are particularly tuned in to the sounds of bees!

Plants can hear! And their ears are far prettier than animal ears!

Flowers are more than just pretty decorations for catching the eyes of hungry pollinators. It turns out they also serve as the ears of plants, who suddenly boost the sugar content in their nectar when they hear bees buzzing nearby, according to a new study.

One day, evolutionary biologist Lilach Hadany wondered if plants could hear.

If they could it’d probably have something to do with flowers, she guessed, as pollination is key to plant reproduction.

She was right.

She and a team of researchers from Tel Aviv University decided to experiment with evening primrose  which grows wild around Tel Aviv and whose long bloom time provides substantial quantities of nectar.

In the lab, they exposed the flowers to five different sound treatments: silence, the sound of bees buzzing, and computer-generated sounds in low, medium and high frequencies.

The flowers had no response to the silence or the computer-generated frequencies, they had an almost immediate response to the sound of bees, boosting the sugar content in their nectar by as much as 20% within 3 minutes.

In field trials, while the flowers seemed to tune out other noises, like the wind, they were particularly attuned to the low frequencies emitted by bees and other pollinators.

The temporary boost in sugar content apparently lasted for up to 6 minutes, as pollinators were 9 times more likely to visit a plant that had been previously visited by a pollinator within that time frame.

“We were quite surprised when we found out that it actually worked,” Hadany told National Geographic. “But after repeating it in other situations, in different seasons, and with plants grown both indoors and outdoors, we feel very confident in the result.”

In retrospect, the researchers said it made sense that flowers would be the ears of plants. Their concave, satellite-dish-shape makes them perfect for receiving and amplifying sound waves.”

In times of chaos and despair, with the rise of communism, I take joy in the beauty and order of nature.



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Tuesday, 26 January 2021
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