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Loyal to Its Roots

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

From its diminutive lavender flowers to its straggly windblown stalks, there is nothing about the beach weed known as the Great Lakes sea rocket to suggest that it might be any sort of a botanical wonder. Yet scientists have found evidence that the sea rocket is able to do something that no other plant has ever been shown to do.

The sea rocket, researchers report, can distinguish between plants that are related to it and those that are not. And not only does this plant recognize its kin, but it also gives them preferential treatment.

If the sea rocket detects unrelated plants growing in the ground with it, the plant aggressively sprouts nutrient-grabbing roots. But if it detects family, it politely restrains itself.

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