Some people talk to their plants. These plants talk to each other.

Like it or not, Facebook, Instagram, and other digital messaging services have become an intimate part of many of our lives. In fact, we collectively send 10 billion messages per day over Facebook! 

If we suppose that the average message is five words long (disclaimer: I have no idea if that's true, but it feels about right) and a novel is 50,000 words long, that means we collectively write enough to fill over a million books per day!


Would it surprise you if I said plants were just as chatty?

And if they're talking so much, what are they saying? 

Well, here's a couple samples of what a tree would say, if a tree could post to Facebook.

"Watch out for those giraffes!"

Spoof image. Base images from Facebook, Hege/Flickr, and siddhu2020/Flickr.

Acacia trees are thorny, green, and a favorite snack for elephants, antelopes, and giraffes. With so many big, voracious herbivores, you'd think they'd all be stripped bare in a day!

But it turns out acacias have a kind of mass alarm system. 

When a giraffe comes up and starts munching on acacia leaves, the victimized plant releases a bunch of ethylene gas. Any other acacias that "smell" it know it means danger and start pumping their leaves with nasty, poisonous chemicals to shoo the predators away.

And it's not just acacias. Sagebrush, willows, poplars, and tomatoes also seem to warn each other of attacks. Sometimes the messages even work across different species, although there's also evidence that different plants may use different chemical languages to encrypt their messages.

The messages don't just work over the air, either. Other studies have found that plants can communicate warnings through webs of underground fungal hairs (known as mycelium) that can reach across entire forests. It's like a big, fungal internet!

"Careful, I'm sick! Don't you catch it too!"

Spoof image. Base images from Facebook, Gab997/Wikimedia Commons, and siddhu2020/Flickr.

Speaking of the fungal Internet — evidence suggests that plants might use it to do more than just shout about predators. They might share health tips too.

In 2010, researchers in China discovered that tomato plants might use this fungal internet to warn each other when they're sick

The researchers planted a bunch of tomatoes, let the fungal Internet grow between them, then purposefully got one of the plants sick. Lo and behold, the sickie's hooked-up neighbors started taking defensive precautions like activating anti-disease chemicals.

"Help me out here, wasps!"

Spoof image. Base images from Facebook, darwin Bell/Wikimedia Commons, and siddhu2020/Flickr.

Ever heard the adage: "The enemy of my enemy is my friend"? Well, some plants believe in that whole-heartedly.

We're not the only ones who love to munch on corn. Caterpillars also love to chow down on corn plants and, like the acacias, if a caterpillar starts to chow down on a corn plant, the plant will release chemical scents into the air.

But instead of warning other corn plants about the caterpillars, these scents are targeted at other insects — caterpillar-loving parasitic wasps. The scent is like a giant dinner bell for the wasps, shouting: "Caterpillar here! Come and get it!" The plants can even have specific scents for specific types of caterpillar!

And it's not just corn — a bunch of other plants do this too, including cotton and tobacco. That's not to mention all the other ways plants communicate with animals (like flowers).

We're just starting to understand how plants communicate.

OK, OK, time to stop anthropomorphizing a bit. A tree isn't going to start speaking to you, no matter how sophisticated these signals are (or what movies want us to think). 

"We are used to thinking of humans as the only organisms that are really perceptive. And now we're finding that – wow – plants can even do this.” — Professor Richard Karban

Trees are still trees. They don't have brains and are not intelligent, at least in the way most of us would think of intelligence.

And there are still a lot of questions and things to study. For example, professor Richard Karban, who is studying communication in sagebrush, says plants probably aren’t actually trying to broadcast every message. Instead, if they are signaling, they might just be trying to talk to closely related family members — with other plants eavesdropping in. So instead of a vegetable Facebook, the average forest might be more like the vegetable NSA.

But the fact that we're listening in at all is incredible. And maybe one day, scientists may be able to decipher these vegetable languages.

Imagine if, instead of spraying pesticides, we could "tell" plants to beware of bugs. A lot more work needs to be done before that though.

"It's an extremely difficult code and a really difficult problem," Karban said. 

But he added that it helps us understand the world around us

"We are used to thinking of humans as the only organisms that are really perceptive," he said. But as we've learned more, we've realized that many different animals are capable of taking in the world. "And now we're finding that – wow – plants can even do this. I think it is changing our view about what organisms are capable of ... and that by itself is pretty cool."

So the next time you go for a quiet walk in the woods, you might, in fact, be strolling through the greatest social media network in the world.

True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

Terence Power / TikTok

A video of a busker in Dublin, Ireland singing "You've Got a Friend in Me" to a young boy with autism is going viral because it's just so darn adorable. The video was filmed over a year ago by Terence Power, the co-host of the popular "Talking Bollox Podcast."

It was filmed before face masks were required, so you can see the boy's beautiful reaction to the song.

Power uploaded it to TikTok because he had just joined the platform and had no idea the number of lives it would touch. "The support on it is unbelievable. I posted it on my Instagram a while back and on Facebook and the support then was amazing," he told Dublin Live.

"But I recently made TikTok and said I'd share it on that and I'm so glad I did now!" he continued.

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True

We're redefining what normal means in these uncertain times, and although this is different for all of us, love continues to transform us for the better.

Love is what united Marie-Claire and David Archbold, who met while taking a photography class. "We went into the darkroom to see what developed," they joke—and after a decade of marriage, they know firsthand the deep commitment and connection romantic love requires.

All photos courtesy of Marie-Claire and David Archbold

However, their relationship became even sweeter when they adopted James: a little boy with a huge heart.

In the United States alone, there are roughly 122,000 children awaiting adoption according to the latest report from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services. While the goal is always for a child to be parented by and stay with their biological family, that is not always a possibility. This is where adoption offers hope—not only does it create new families, it gives birth parents an avenue through which to see their child flourish when they are not able to parent. For the right families, it's a beautiful thing.

The Archbolds knew early on that adoption was an option for them. David has three daughters from a previous marriage, but knowing their family was not yet complete, the couple embarked on a two-year journey to find their match. When the adoption agency called and told them about James, they were elated. From the moment they met him, the Archbolds knew he was meant to be part of their family. David locked eyes with the brown-eyed baby and they stared at each other in quiet wonder for such a long time that the whole room fell silent. "He still looks at me like that," said David.

The connection was mutual and instantaneous—love at first sight. The Archbolds knew that James was meant to be a part of their family. However, they faced significant challenges requiring an even deeper level of commitment due to James' medical condition.

James was born with congenital hyperinsulinism, a rare condition that causes his body to overproduce insulin, and within 2 months of his birth, he had to have surgery to remove 90% of his pancreas. There was a steep learning curve for the Archbolds, but they were already in love, and knew they were committed to the ongoing care that'd be required of bringing James into their lives. After lots of research and encouragement from James' medical team, they finally brought their son home.

Today, three-year-old James is thriving, filled with infectious joy that bubbles over and touches every person who comes in contact with him. "Part of love is when people recognize that they need to be with each other," said his adoptive grandfather. And because the Archbolds opted for an open adoption, there are even more people to love and support James as he grows.

This sweet story is brought to you by Sumo Citrus®. This oversized mandarin is celebrated for its incredible taste and distinct looks. Sumo Citrus is super-sweet, enormous, easy-to-peel, seedless, and juicy without the mess. Fans of the fruit are obsessive, stocking up from January to April when Sumo Citrus is in stores. To learn more, visit sumocitrus.com and @sumocitrus.

A teacher's message has gone viral after he let his student sleep in class — for the kindest reason.

Teachers spend time preparing lesson plans and trying to engage students in learning. The least a kid can do is stay awake in class, right?

But high school English teacher Monte Syrie sees things differently. In a Twitter thread, he explained why he didn't take it personally when his student Meg fell asleep — and why he didn't wake her up.

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via Ken Lund / Flickr

The dark mountains that overlook Provo, Utah were illuminated by a beautiful rainbow-colored "Y" on Thursday night just before 8 pm. The 380-foot-tall "Y" overlooks the campus of Brigham Young University, a private college owned by the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), commonly known as Mormons.

The display was planned by a group of around 40 LGBT students to mark the one-year anniversary of the university sending out a letter clarifying its stance on homosexual behavior.

"One change to the Honor Code language that has raised questions was the removal of a section on 'Homosexual Behavior.' The moral standards of the Church did not change with the recent release of the General Handbook or the updated Honor Code, " the school's statement read.

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