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Like all living things, plants interact with each other and with the environment that surrounds them. They perceive changes in temperature, light and humidity, as well as the presence of other living beings. But what about the pain? Do they suffer when herbivorous animals feed on their plucked leaves and fruits? Do you perceive the ripping that humans make by pulling them out of the ground at their roots or by cutting down their trunks and branches? Do plants feel like fires or storms in which wind, rain and even lightning attack their organisms?

The answer is yes, plants are capable of detecting the different changes and damages caused by both other living beings and environmental factors. In this interesting article by Green Ecologist we provide more detailed answers to the great question that nature hides among the plant world: Do plants feel pain?

Are plants living beings?

Without a doubt, plants are living beings. They perform the vital functions of feeding and breathing, although in a different way than what we are used to seeing among animals.

Plants take different chemical compounds from the soil, water and atmosphere, which their body is responsible for breaking into small molecules for better use and / or synthesizing new compounds that will serve as raw materials to feed (through the process of photosynthesis ) and breathe (capturing carbon dioxide and subsequently releasing oxygen into the atmosphere).

In addition, plants, as living beings that they are, are able to perceive the presence of another living being that is close to them, interacting directly or indirectly with your body (through physical contact or through chemical interaction).

Do plants have a nervous system?

However, unlike animals, the perception of plants is not based on a nervous system, but on a whole world of chemical interactions.

Plants do not have any kind of nervous connection in which neurons, nerves, senses of hearing, smell, sight, taste or touch are involved, nor any organ such as the brain that is in charge of receiving, processing and transmitting the perceptions it receives from the outside.

It is only and exclusively chemical interactions that inform the plant of what is happening around it and, from that moment, it triggers different responses that involve the presence of chemical compounds and plant hormones.

Among the situations that cause pain to plants, herbivory, the presence of invasive plants that cause a situation of rivalry between them for survival in the same habitat, as well as numerous stress situations due to alterations in environmental factors, such as the hydric and nutrient deficit, salinity or problems in the assimilation of carbon dioxide (essential for the correct functioning of photosynthesis).

In the next section we will explain in more detail how these chemical responses are carried out that allow plants respond to situations that cause them pain.

Do plants feel pain?

A scientific study published in 2022 clarified possible doubts as to whether plants feel pain and spread it. The study, published in the journal Science, was conducted by a group of American scientists made up of biochemists, microbiologists, and botanists. They focused on analyzing the different biochemical reactions that the plant Arabidopsis thaliana it emitted in response to a series of stimuli, such as herbivory or the presence of invasive plants.

The results showed how plants communicate with each other, warning of the presence of "something evil". This communication is produced by the release of calcium ions, which act as long-distance signals. In this way, it was verified how the plants respond to the attack with chemical defenses that allow them to deter the attacker and, at the same time, repair the tissue that has been damaged in their body.

But, how do plants that are undergoing an attack by another living being detect if they lack the sense of touch and sensitive nerves? The answer is again in chemical perception and response. Plants have "pain" receptors of a chemical nature, so that after detecting the attack in a certain area, thanks to its receptors, the plant is capable of unleashing a whole series of chemical defenses to protect itself against a subsequent attack.

A) Yes, plants do not feel pain themselves, since this requires a nervous system, but they do perceive all kinds of damage and they transmit them to other parts of their organism to protect them against another possible attack and they launch the chemical signal that other plants receive.

Here below you can see a video from our YouTube channel on this topic.

If you want to read more articles similar to Do plants feel pain?We recommend that you enter our Nature Curiosities category.

  • Benavides-Mendoza, A. (2002) Ecophysiology and biochemistry of stress in plants. Antonio Narro Buenavista Agrarian Autonomous University, Mexico. pp: 6, 73-77.
  • Camarena Gutiérrez, G. (2009) Signals in the plant-insect interaction. Chapingo Magazine Forest and Environmental Sciences series, Mexico. Vol: 15 (1), 81-85.
  • Sepúlveda, G., Porta, H. & Rocha, M. (2003) The participation of Secondary Metabolites in the Defense of Plants. Mexican Journal of Phytopathology. Vol: 21 (3), 355-359.
  • Valentini, G. (09/17/2018) Plants feel pain and share it, a study shows. Collective Culture News. Recovered from
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