The Web of Life (77) Plant Strategies


Whether from pest, disease, or adverse environmental conditions, stress takes its toll. Plants learn from the experience and pass their knowledge and acquired immunities to their seedlings. Whence plant evolution proceeds.


Plants can be quite strategic. ~ American ecologist Lars Hedin

Plants have strategies to further their own growth, fend off predators and parasites, heal wounds, and establish territories.

Growth and defense are energetically conflicting goals. Defense against predation is essential only at certain times.

Spending energy on defensive measures limits growth potential, but defensive strength cannot be suddenly amassed. So, the trade-off between growth and defense requires an energy budget. At the physical level, hormones that control growth, termed gibberellins, and those that muster defense, termed jasmonates, conference to decide how to allocate the plant’s energy resources. These hormones are merely physical correlates to the mental and life-energy gyre (lengyre) in respectively deciding and effecting strategies.

Plants have to prioritize. ~ Chinese botanist Sheng Yang He

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The forgoing withstanding, some plants are invigorated from suffering hard times: rebounding with vigor.

Plants can benefit from being eaten because they respond by overcompensating, ultimately achieving greater fitness.
~ American biologists Ken Paige & Thomas Whitham

Scarlet gilia is American western wildflower which grows steadily from seed. Scarlet gilia stands tall among sagebrush on mountainsides, its brilliant red trumpet flowers blazing. Anything that doesn’t kill it makes it stronger. There are other plants like it, including some mustards.

Most plants respond to damage with a process called endoreduplication, in which a cell duplicates its genome without splitting into 2. Endoreduplication gives a plant larger cells with more energy factories (mitochondria). Many damaged plants go for minimal levels of endoreduplication, but overcompensators go into overdrive with the process.

In practice, defense and regrowth actually go hand-in-hand because the genetics of defense and regrowth are similar; like it or not, theory be darned. ~ American biologist Josh Banta