The answer is blowin’ in the wind…

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Image: Wikimedia Commons

How does a rooted-to-the-spot plant escape the atten­tions of would-be herb­i­vores? Well, accord­ing to Kazuo Yamazaki in his review straight­for­wardly entitled ‘Gone with the wind: trem­bling leaves may deter herb­ivory’, they move, and rather rap­idly, too! No, they don’t run away, but by employ­ing rapid – though pass­ive – move­ments, such as the wind-induced trem­bling of leaves, they may keep inver­teb­rate invaders at bay. Those move­ments may dis­lodge herb­i­vores or para­sites or dis­suade gravid females from lay­ing their eggs on the ‘mov­able feast’.

The leafy jinglings and janglings may also serve to uncover anim­als pre­vi­ously hid­den by the foliage, sub­ject­ing them to the undesired atten­tions of their own pred­at­ors. Furthermore, the trem­blings may assist the dis­persal of plant volat­ile com­pounds thereby repelling herb­i­vores and/or attract­ing their pred­at­ors. Lovely stuff (and so eleg­ant, it must be cor­rect!). As in the human world, so too it would seem in the plant world, it’s the movers and shakers who get things done.

Nigel Chaffey. ORCID 0000-0002-4231-9082

Nigel is a botanist and full-time academic at Bath Spa University (Bath, near Bristol, UK). As News Editor for the Annals of Botany he contributes the monthly Plant Cuttings column to that august international botanical organ. His main goal is to inform (hopefully, in an educational, and entertaining way...) about plants and plant-people interactions.