Hear things, that is, that help a plant.
In “Plants may be able to ‘hear’ others” (New Scientist, 08 June 2012), Michael Marshall reports,
It seems chilli seeds can sense neighbouring plants even if those neighbours are sealed in a box, suggesting plants have a hitherto-unrecognised sense.
Plants are known to have many of the senses we do: they can sense changes in light level, “smell” chemicals in the air and “taste” them in the soil (New Scientist, 26 September 1998, p 24). They even have a sense of touch that detects buffeting from strong winds.
concedes that plants make faint noises when water columns in their stems are disrupted, and that hearing functions in much the same way as the sense of touch – which plants have – but wants to see the results replicated before she is convinced that plants can hear. The study, she says, comes as a challenge to botanists to either refute or confirm.
With plants, as with insects, it seems that there can be intelligence in nature that does not require the individual life form to be intelligent.
Wallace, Darwin’s banished co-theorist, was right.