Queer Ways Plants Protect Themselves from Predators

This post is a part of A-Z Challenge for bloggers, that takes place every year in the month of April. Bloggers take part in this challenge for self improvement and to overcome the “writer’s block”. Each one of us writes one article everyday, starting from the alphabet ‘A’, right up to ‘Z’. My theme for this year’s challenge is – mind-blowing facts and theories.


If you thought of plants to be brainless livings that just produced oxygen and food for other species, it’s time to rethink that thought. These brainless yet intelligent species have some unusual ways of protecting themselves from their predators.

They Sting

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Urtica dioica or Common Nettle, a flowering plant has stinging hair. These hollow hair on the plant’s leaves and stems act like needles when something comes too close. If touched, the stinging hair inject histamine and other chemicals that induce a burning stinging sensation, indirectly shouting “DON’T TOUCH”!

They Warn Each Other of Threat


Some plants like Barley and Corn, can emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the air to alert neighboring plants of a nearby threat. These airborne signals have usually been seen to improve the resistance of the receiver! Isn’t that amazing that plants can do this without communicating verbally???

They Release Venom


Dieffenbachia, or the Dumb Cane, an indoor plant stores calcium oxalate crystals inside it’s leaves. When released, these crystals deliver a venomous enzyme. If ingested, this enzyme can cause speech impairment or even paralysis.

They can give Heart Attacks


Digitalis purpurea, or the foxglove, is a beauty and a beast in one. The vibrant vegetation contains a potent toxin known as digitoxin which on consumption can induce heart failure for insects and humans alike.

They Collaborate with Ants


Vachellia cornigera, or Bullhorn Acacia trees work in collaboration with aggressive ants. They have a win-win partnership, as the ants protect the trees against anything that poses a threat, and in exchange, the ants get a place to live and food to eat.

They Choke Their Predators


Many plants including apples, spinach, and lima beans are poisonous to other species besides humans. These plants produce hydrogen cyanide compounds, which attach to either sugar or fat molecules. So, when insects try to eat them, the plants release the hydrogen cyanide, choking the insects to death! Never thought the apples sitting in your fruit basket could be so brutal!

From now on, I’m never touching a plant/flower/tree without Googling it first!

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