Do Plants Have Memory?

In 2014 at the University of Florence in Italy, Dr. Monica Gagliano and her colleagues performed an experiment to see if they could train plants to change their behavior.

Using a plant which curls up its leaves in response to physical stimulation, called the Mimosa pudica (aka: touch-me-not) – the team would drop test plants onto foam from a height of six inches in order to facilitate a flinching response.

According to the New York Times:

“After repeated exposure with no major harm, the plants no longer recoiled. Even after a month left alone, the plants “remembered” the falls weren’t harmful and ignored them. Dr. Gagliano, now at the University of Western Australia, concluded from the experiment that plants could “learn” long-lasting behaviors, sort of like memories.”

Touch-me-not plant (Mimosa pudica) in action Video by Akshay Marathe
In  a review published last month in Science Advances, there may be another way to perceive these results – as some believe that the Mimosa pudica could be “learning to forget”.
According to Peter Crisp, a molecular plant biologist at Australian National University and author on the review,  plants will “forget” to flinch when they’ve realized a threat does no harm, and by forgetting – it allows the plants to save energy. 

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