By using the same experimental framework normally applied to test learnt behavioral responses in animals, biologists have demonstrated that Mimosa pudica (an American exotic herb) can learn and remember just as well as it would be expected of animals.
Dr Monica Gagliano from the University of Western Australia and her colleagues designed their experiments as if Mimosa was indeed an animal.
They trained Mimosa‘s short- and long-term memories under both high and low-light environments by repeatedly dropping water on them using a custom-designed apparatus.
The scientists show how Mimosa plants stopped closing their leaves when they learnt that the repeated disturbance had no real damaging consequence. The plants were able to acquire the learnt behavior in a matter of seconds and as in animals, learning was faster in less favorable environment.
Amazingly, these plants were able to remember what had been learned for several weeks, even after environmental conditions had changed.
Gagliano, M., Renton, M., Depczynski, M. et al., (2014) Experience teaches plants to learn faster and forget slower in environments where it matters, Oecologi, 175: 63.