that plants are just sitting around photosynthesizin', think again: some
plants like the parasitic dodder vine actually hunt.
Consuelo De Moraes
of Penn State University discovered that the parasitic plant can even
sniff out its prey:
Dodder is a parasite—it lives off of other plants. Instead
of waiting around for a suitable host, the vine hunts one down. Conseulo
De Moraes of Penn State University planted a young dodder near a tomato
plant and continuously filmed the pair for several days. Her time-lapse
video reveals a growing dodder flailing around, tasting the air like
a snake, until it finally brushes the tomato's stem and begins to encircle
its victim. Eventually it would sink tiny nozzles into the tomato plant
to suck out vital juices.
De Moraes discovered something surprising about the dodder: it
can smell. The vine sniffs out its hosts, growing toward telltale chemicals
released by its neighbors. And it is picky. Dodder prefers juicy tomato
plants to slender wheat and healthy plants to sick plants.