Now this is coll. This is the kind of cool thing you can find on the Net:
news @ nature.com - Plants can tell who's who - It's not just animals that can tell siblings from strangers.
Plants -- plants! -- can recognize their own relatives. In experiments, they grow and compete for nutrients more agressively when they are potted with non-relatives than when with theie leafy kin.
Awesome! It is a mystery how they do this. Perhaps some kind of chemical signature? Plant pheromones?
Plants are far more aware of their environments than is generally known. They can infer the presence and the abundance of neighboring plants by their own experience of nutrient and water levels in their soil, and act accordingly. I like what one of the scientists in the story said, "plants have a secret social life."
I took Botany for my life science as an undergrad, and I'm really glad I did, because it have me a different view of life, of the nature and processes of life. I learned the basics of biology -- mitosis/miosis, genetics, cellular metabolism, the Krebs cycle. But from a different viewpoint, vegetative instead of animalistic.
Plants are for more complex organisms than people generally realize. A flowering angiosperm like a rose bush or an apple tree is a highly complex lifeform, as complex in its way as a mammal, but we think it less because it is so different from us. Vegetative. They seem less alive to us because they don't move and react like animals. Well, actually, they do, but we can't see it because it is on a slower scale -- hours and days instead of moments.
And now we see that they are more aware, more alive, yet.
This is one of the things I love about libraianship -- the ability, the need, to always learn new things.