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How Do Plants "See"?

Picture of design item One of the more fascinating areas of study in botany is how plants “think” and “see.” We normally associate thinking and seeing with a brain. While there are people who talk to their plants and believe the plants can respond to what they say, research does not support such claims. What research does show, however, is that plants do seem to sense the presence of other plants, and they seem to know when to germinate and when to flower. Studies have shown that if a plant is being shaded by another plant it will restrict its development of new shoots and will accelerate stem growth so it can get an upper hand in securing more light. Another major mystery is how plants know when to flower. Not all plants flower in the spring. The timing of when a plant flowers always seems to be when it can best produce seeds for successful production of new plants.

Research has shown that plants do all these things by dissecting light. Sunlight has all of the colors of the rainbow in it, and plants break the light up into these colors. What the plant does not use it reflects, and since green is the highest energy reaching the surface of the earth, reflecting green protects the plant from too much radiation. That is why plants look green to us. Plants absorb the very long wavelengths of light, including infrared, which our eyes cannot see. The infrared penetrates leaves, so by detecting the fact that red does not get to the plant and infrared does, the plant “knows” it is in the shade and sends up more stem material to get to the sunlight.

This same technique allows seeds to know when to germinate and tells the plant when to flower. This over-simplified explanation shows us clearly that even though the plant does not have a brain, the system is highly designed, fine-tuned, and incredibly complex, indicating that Intelligence was involved in producing it. There is remarkable design in plants, and that design requires a Designer to not only understand the system but be able to use it to the best possible extent. Source: Natural History magazine, September 2004, page 32.

Picture credits:
© Sergey Nivens. Image from BigStockPhoto.com