I did not have a specific idea in mind today to really discuss in this blog entry, but a conversation with a friend sparked the topic of allelopathy. Many people have this concept of plants and their world as a peaceable kingdom, the idea of gardens and wild paradises of trees and ferns and so on, coexisting side-by-side. But more and more as botanists and other researchers look into how plants pass their time, it turns out that the vegetable world is full of chemical warfare, prisoner’s dilemma defections, clone armies, and chemical communications subtle and complex.
There are also amazing examples of plants using fungi and fungi using plants to communicate amongst each other. Underground, everyone can hear you scream. That smell of fresh-cut grass that many people find to be a trigger for happy nostalgia and the memory of sumer evenings? It is actually a distress call for grass to summon a species of predatory wasp. Even things like placid kelp forests are full of leafy “violence” as clusters of algae compete for light and nutrients and fend off hungry animals. It is about time for this author to hit the hay, but I thought a linkfest about the world of plants might provide an interesting piece of reading for you all in lieu of a more thoughtful, personal post.