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Q: Is it true that plants can understand our emotions?
Here are a few characteristics of intelligent life that have been used in the context of plant activity:
Perception of the surrounding environment
Reassuringly (especially to plant eaters), plants are not enough like animals to “feel” the same way we do. Animals have nervous systems that transmit sensations to pain receptors. Plants do not. Plants may exhibit reactions to stimuli, and we sometimes interpret these responses as defensive behaviour, but we’re really talking about successful adaptations to their environment.
Plants have neither nervous systems nor neuro-transmitting pain receptors. While it’s accurate to say that plants can feel, or sense, their surroundings, that is a far, unbridged distance from claiming that plants feel like we do.
Plants can't “decide” like we do. Rather, what the evidence shows is that plants react and adapt. In evolutionary terms, all plants are hard-wired to survive and pass on their genes to future generations, and adaptation is the means to accomplish that.
Plants “fight” for territory. They “seek” food, “evade” predators, and “hunt” and capture prey. These processes are inherent in plant cell responses. They seem to grow “with purpose,” so they have a spatial awareness. And they “know” how to grow in community and be responsible community members, contributing to the common good. But let’s not fall into the anthropomorphic trap and attribute more human-like traits to plants than they support.
In 2014, a team at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland showed that when a caterpillar attacks an Arabidopsis plant, it triggers a wave of electrical activity. It is because of the role played by molecules called glutamate receptors. Glutamate is the most important neurotransmitter in our central nervous system, and it plays exactly the same role in plants, except with one crucial difference: plants do not have nervous systems.
Do plants feel? Yes, and no. For us, the more important part of that answer is no. They don’t feel like we feel.
Trees — and all plants, for that matter — feel nothing at all, because consciousness, emotions and cognition are hallmarks of animals alone, scientists recently reported in an article (1). They don't think plants are smart, they a re just complex
No, plants don't understand our emotions.