Jack and the Beans Talk

Can you be-LEAF what your plants are saying? 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

If only house plants could just TELL us when they need water! Or can they? 

Itzhak Khait from Tel-Aviv University and team investigated.

Researchers put plants near microphones that pick up super high-pitched sounds. They found out plants make POPPING noises at higher frequencies than humans can hear! While WE can’t hear these noises, other animals likely can! Mice and moths, for example, can probably hear these sounds from fifteen feet away.

The team also compared healthy plants with those that were dehydrated or cut. Unhappy plants complained – er … emitted – more noise than healthy plants. The researchers were able to identify plant species JUST based off their sounds! They could even tell what TYPE of stress plants were under!

Given the right tools, we can HEAR when our plants need watering! Listening to plants can help us better understand our environment and refine current agricultural practices.

So thus endeth today’s tale – Jack and the Beans Talk.


Khait, I., Lewin-Epstein, O., Sharon, R., Saban, K., Goldstein, R., Anikster, Y., Zeron, Y., Agassy, C., Nizan, S., Sharabi, G., Perelman, R., Boonman, A., Sade, N., Yovel, Y., & Hadany, L. (2023). Sounds emitted by plants under stress are airborne and informative. Cell, 186(7). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2023.03.009