Plant Families

Growing plants in small soil pots


Even a TREE knows its family tree!

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

Sibling plants are cuttings from the same “mother” plant. But does mama plant recognize her kin? And do plants have “sibling rivalry” – like we humans?

Susan Dudley and Amanda File from McMaster University in Canada wondered. They took eight families of plants from the same species. They placed some of them alone. Others were placed in pots with plants of either the same family, or a different family. After eight weeks, the researchers examined different parts of the plants, focusing on
their roots.

Results? Plants grew MORE roots when they were potted with plants from DIFFERENT families! When siblings shared a pot, roots grew LESS. Why is that? Turns out, brothers and sister plants don’t mind sharing water, nutrients, and sunlight! But if you ain’t family – you’re on your own!

Researchers have finally identified the ROOT of plant family behavior!

Unlike MY two little offshoots, plant siblings are happy to share!

Reference: Dudley, S. A., & File, A. L. (2007). Kin recognition in an annual plant. Biology Letters, 3(4), 435–438.