What Plants Talk About

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrrSAc-vjG4

“What Plants Talk About?”
Essential concepts: Adaptations, survival, ecosystems, chemical warfare, non-verbal communication, “animal-like” behavior, Spotted Knapweed infestation, oxalic acid, C14 radioactivity, Wild Tobacco Plant predation, pollination, kin recognition, “mother” tree, fungal network.

Part I. Introduction

  1. List several ways in which plants differ from animals.
  2. What do scientists think plants can do?

Part II. Predation and Foraging Behaviors: Venus Fly Trap, Plant roots and Dodder Vines (or Devil’s Hair!)

  1. How does a Venus Fly Trap find food?
  2. How does a plant’s roots act when searching for food? What happens when the roots find a patch of nutrients? How is this similar to animal behavior?
  3. Dodder Vines (or Devil’s Hair) are rather creepy! What are they? and how to they find nutrients?
    Part III. Self-Defense: the Wild Tobacco Plant, Utah
  4. What are some ways that plants respond to perceived or actual threats?
  5. There are 4 ways the native Wild Tobacco plant protects itself. BE NEAT and BE DETAILED. This is a most awesome plant! INCLUDE NAMES OF INSECTS: Horn worm Caterpillar, Big-Eyed Bug, Hawk Moth. Hummingbird. EXPLAIN THE PROCESSES.
    a. Chemical toxin- b. Chemical SOS- c. Tricones- d. Change Pollinators: (there are several changes to the Tobacco Plant in this method of defense – name them)

Part IV. Warfare: Spotted Knapweed and the Lupine Plant, Montana

  1. Spotted Knapweed is an invasive plant. List some of the problems these plants have caused on Montana ranches.
  2. There are no natural predators of this plant here in the USA. What methods have ranchers used to try to control the spread of Knapweed? List 2 methods.

Did these methods work?

Why might this be the case? What is special about knapweed here in the US vs Europe?

  1. How do plants respond to the presence of other plants? Can plants be territorial? Explain the behavior of the invasive Knapweed and the native Lupine Plants in Montana.

Part V. Family Affiliations: Do plants recognize their own kin/relatives? Sea Rocket, kin, non-kin relations.

  1. What happens when roots do not recognize their own kind?
  2. What happens when they do?

Part VI. Communal Affiliations: Fungal roots and forests
Can trees have relationships with other organisms? How might this be occurring?

  1. What amount of plant mass is observed aboveground?
  2. Can fungi and trees live as a colony, communicating with friends and foes alike? Describe in detail how fungal roots and forests look out for each other as a community creating a healthy ecosystem.

Part VII. Family Affiliations: Douglas Fir trees, C14 radioactivity, Geiger counter, saplings.
Do mother trees nurture their young?

  1. Describe what happened during the Douglas Fir C14 radiation experiment. Bullet your notes.
  2. Where did the great majority of the Carbon-14 food end up?

Part VIII. Conclusions:
What is your reaction to this film? List some ways that it has changed or enlightened your perspective of plants.

Sample Solution