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Some Plants in Illinois have Eyes! (Two-Photos… for Your Eyes Only)



             If you don’t like to be stared at,
don’t come to rural Illinois!

There are some rare plants here in rural Illinois
that are sensitive to the touch and that are quickly evolving.
             At first, besides their sensitivity to touch,
they began being sensitive to the sunlight.
Then, gradually over time, they developed 
photoreceptors that could better detect sun-
light and let them know when to fold their leaves for the evening.
           Now these photoreceptors are further evolving
into legitimate eyes.

      Some plants that i know have
      better response and better perception than
      a lot of the humans out there!

       I am a vegetarian,
       and i certainly am not going to eat these plants
       while they stare back at me!



Chamaecrista fasciculata, a wild plant of Illinois with an eye on each branch section and with leaves closed for the evening… Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2018

Chamaecrista fasciculata, a wild plant of Illinois with leaves open in daylight for photosynthesis…. Photo by Thomas Peace c. 2018



41 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Very cool. Are these “eyes” actually photo receptors for the limb? Curious if you covered one if they would close up for the night? Very interesting sir.


    • This was mostly set up as a humorous posting (i.e., as a joke) but, from what i see in the comment section, most people are buying it! 🙂 I did list “humor” as one of the tabs for the post. (Don’t be gullible, people!) On the other hand, what are these things? They sure do look clear and “photosensor-like.” I tried Googling information about what they might be but couldn’t find anything. I did try covering them momentarily with my hand (i.e., covering the eye-looking part) but nothing changed; however, it might require a longer period. They may be something that is sensitive to infrared (i.e., heat) and my warm hand may have just have kept them open (like they were). They sure look like receptors of some kind! The plants sure do change quickly as the sun is going down (i.e., they close quickly)! One thing is for sure, they are not spots for the yellow blossoms to emerge from… as i looked and the blossoms protrude from a different part of the plant. It would be interesting to discover their function/purpose! 🙂


  2. Interesting! Over here we have a similar light- and touch-sensitive plant, Mimosa pudica. It’s a weed but still a fascinating one! 😃


  3. I did read what you wrote to Jim, and it made me curious. We have the plant here, so I pulled out my copy of Shinners & Mahler’s Flora of North Central Texas, and found out what those little button-like things are. This is straight from the description:

    “petioles with a conspicuous (using a hand lens) sessile or short-stalked disk-like gland ca. 1.5 mm across, the gland located from near the middle of the petiole to somewhat closer to the lower pair of leaflets… The petiolar glands are small, orangish, and nectar-producing; ants utilize the nectar.”

    So, they are receptors of a sort — they receive ants! I’ve not been in the field recently because of rain, but these still should be blooming, and I’m going to try to find some! Wonderful observation on your part.


  4. Thank you so much, Linda! 🙂 Sweet! I was hoping someone would find the answer! So they are there to attract ants! When ants are on a plant like that — that reinforces them with food or whatever — they become very territorial and other insects are bitten by the ants and driven away. These “other insects” can often be large insects that can eat the plant. The social team-work of the ants, however, overpowers and dominates in most cases. Ants wouldn’t need to raise and take care of their little sugar producing “cow pets” — aphids — on a plant if the plant already supplies them with sweets! It’s a great symbiotic relationship! 🙂


  5. Whose jim? Lol. You are a funny one today. If you need to check sources, read what was written to jim. I love this.


  6. Wow, these plants are fascinating. You definitely have taught me something I did not know before 🙂

    I know prayer plants and several others fold up in the evening, so I’m curious what all of these have in common, if anything? for thought!


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