Plant Sensory Perception

Sensory perception is not limited to animals.


The role of plant sensory perception in plant–animal interactions

Mark C. Mescher and Consuelo De Moraes, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zürich, CH-8092 Zürich, Switzerland


Plants accurately track the physical variations that cause seasonal conditions on earth. Humans took many thousands of years and the construction / invention of calendars to do the same, and until recent technology, (with a few exceptions) these devices were crude and inaccurate.




The sedentary lifestyle of plants can give the false impression that they are passive participants in interactions with other organisms and the broader environment. In fact, plants have evolved sophisticated perceptual abilities that allow them to monitor and respond to a wide range of changing biotic and abiotic conditions. In this paper, we discuss recent research exploring the diverse ways in which plant sensory abilities mediate interactions between plants and animals, especially insects. Such interactions include the detection and capture of animal prey by carnivorous plants, active plant responses to pollinator visitation, the perception of various cues associated with the immediate presence and feeding of herbivores, and plant responses to (olfactory) cues indicating the threat of future herbivory. We are only beginning to understand the full range of sensory cues that mediate such interactions and to elucidate the mechanisms by which plants perceive, interpret, and respond to them. Nevertheless, it is clear that plants continually gather information about their environments via a range of sensory modalities and actively respond in ways that profoundly influence their interactions with other organisms.



2 thoughts on “Plant Sensory Perception

  1. Yup. I love the idea that human’s are not at the top of some evolutionary ladder and that we are the only ones who sense and feel. That idea has always felt wrong to me. Thank you for all of your posts. I am learning that some of my thoughts on reality need to be re-thought.


    • Yup! I don’t think we can ever “close the door” on what we perceive to be reality. People have no need to fear a “larger universe” of information and understanding. Each time my perceptions are challenged, reversed or expanded, I feel liberated.


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