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Episode 105: How Plants Communicate Through VOCs and the “Wood Wide Web”

how plants communication with each other through VOCs and the Wood Wide Web



Today we invite Dr Elle Barnes back to the show after our very successful conversation after I took Intro to Plant Science with her at NYBG. Elle is a scientist and teacher for NYBG and in addition to Intro to Plant Science, I recently took The Science of Tree Communication class with as well. It was WILD to learn about the underground “wood wide web” that the forest runs on, and how trees communicate with one another through VOCs. I frequently go for morning walks in nearby woods, and since I took that class, I truly look at forest environment differently, and have such a deeper appreciation for it. Plant friends, there is a network of mycorrhizae negotiating transport of vital compounds for trees under every step we take outside! How cool is that?!

In addition to the “Wood Wide Web,” a big part of our conversation in The Science of Tree Communication class was HOW trees and plants communicate with each other through VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds. Since VOCs are a hot topic in the plant community regarding how “plants clean air”, we took a deep dive to understanding this concept. Get ready to learn all about VOCs, what they are, how they are used and the great “Wood Wide Web”.

Thanks to the NYBG for continuing to create enriching courses that have helped further my Plant Parent Knowledge. Check their offerings out here If you are in the NY area, the NYBG is back open, including the Palm Conservatory and is an absolutely DREAM! Consider becoming a member!

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In this episode we learn:

  • How and why plants communicate with each other
  • The “fake news” that VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) are all bad for us
  • How plants use VOCs to communicate with each other and themselves
  • The above ground plant communication system
  • If plants ACTUALLY clean the air, and how and why we might have been mislead with this notion
  • If VOCS are all bad
  • The difference between a VOC that comes off of a plant and one that comes off of a carpet
  • The truth about the scent of fresh cut grass (and why it smells that way)
  • What the scent of a rose actually is (it's a VOC!)
  • How plants use VOCs to attract pollinators
  • Maria's OBSESSION with The Overstory
  • How plants and animals have evolved together
  • “The enemy of my enemy” theory when it comes to how plants attract certain pollinators
  • The “Wood Wide Web” and the underground plant communication system
  • How fungi help trees and plants communicate with each other
  • Dr Barnes' most “mind blowing” fact about trees and VOC
  • Why Monstera are conditioned to look for darkness and not light
  • VOCs and the Ozone

Mentioned in Today's Episode:

Thank you to today's sponsors!

Soltech Solutions Luxury Grow Lights: Whether its simply getting through the lower light winter- or if you’re like me and you’ve just got too many plants  and too few windows and need to bring more light indoors so your collection can keep growing- Soltech Solutions has the luxury lighting option for you! Soltech is offering BAGR listeners 20% off with code 20BLOOM at once again thats and code 20BLOOM at checkout for 20%off.

Espoma Organics: for responsibly made, fabulous indoor and outdoor organic soils, fertilizers, pest control sprays and more visit to find your local dealer or check out my amazon storefront of my favorite Espoma products here.


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