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The Secret Life of Plants - Plants can communicate!

“King Solomon, of blessed memory – to whom God gave both wisdom and knowledge – knew everything in the Torah. In fact, his grasp of the Torah was so deep that he understood the secrets of all things including the language of plants, the language of trees and roots, ”

The Secret Life of Plants - Plants can communicate!

A recent discovery, based upon studies conducted in California, Japan and Germany since 1996, is that plants have a sophisticated chemical language that through which they communicate – not only with members of their own species, but with different types of plants, and even with insects.

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For instance, when scientists clipped leaves of a sagebrush plant in a way that mimicked the damage caused by insects, the plant released a puff of a chemical called methyl jasmonate. Tobacco plants growing downwind picked up on the chemical and immediately began boosting their own level of an enzyme that makes their leaves less tasty to insects. These tobacco plants suffered sixty percent less damage from grasshoppers and caterpillars than tobacco plants next to unclipped sagebrush.

More recently, scientists at Kyoto University in Japan let spider mites loose on lima-bean plants and tracked the plants’ responses. They found five different defense mechanisms. First, each injured plant released a chemical that changed its flavor, making it less attractive to the mites. Then the plants released other chemicals that drifted away. Other lima bean plants received the chemical and immediately began giving off the same chemicals, making themselves less tasty and warning still more lima bean plants, before the mites had even reached them. Most amazingly, some of them released chemicals which summoned a whole new batch of mites, those which actually eat the spider mites attacking the lima bean plants.

These amazing discoveries of plant language, at the cutting edge of botanical research, were already known to the Jewish Sages thousands of years ago. Nachmanidies wrote ( in his introduction to his commentary on the Torah):

“King Solomon, of blessed memory – to whom God gave both wisdom and knowledge – knew everything in the Torah. In fact, his grasp of the Torah was so deep that he understood the secrets of all things, including the language of plants, the language of trees and roots, and all things both hidden and revealed. He discovered all of this through Torah study and its commentaries and teachings.”

The Talmud also speaks of the wisdom of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, the leading sage in the Land of Israel in the first century CE:

“Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai knew every part of the Tanach, Mishnah, Gemara, Halachot . . . astronomy, numerical calculations, the language of the angels, the language of the spirit world, and the language of the trees…”

Indeed, plants do have a language and can communicate – a fact revealed by God through His Torah millennia ago.

 

Adapted from The Revolution by Rabbi Zamir Cohen