As part of a series on plant animals, plantimals if you will, I am now asking about ears. All surface life has them or some sort of equivalent to them and with good reason. Other than sight, hearing is the most crucial sense. But what about plants?

While it has been documented that plants can hear, that was over a long period of time with the effect being only growth. The blueprints are there, but not the bar.

How would a plantimals' ear work? What would it look like? How could it come in being?

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    $\begingroup$ I was sure something like this was already asked, but can't find it now... $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ Have you read this? $\endgroup$
    – Feyre
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ Related: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/41318/… $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ There is a sort of fundamental problem with plantimals...that being that when they start picking up animal based traits they tend to stop being plants and start being animals. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 19:40

3 Answers 3



Perhaps plants could begin to hear via their hair (trichomes) in the same way jumping spiders do:

Researchers found that the spiders could also sense and respond to sounds coming from distances more than 9.8 feet (3 meters) away — no small feat for a creature that measures just 0.04 to 0.98 inches (1 to 25 millimeters) and lacks ears and eardrums.

"Instead of eardrums that respond to pressure, spiders have these extraordinarily sensitive hairs that respond to the actual movement of air particles around them," Shamble told Live Science. "Though they differ in size and number, these specialized 'hearing' hairs are found across virtually all spider species."


"Although it has not been proved, the suspicion is that plants can perceive sound through proteins that respond to pressure found within their cell membranes. Sound waves cause their leaves to vibrate ever so slightly, causing the plant to respond accordingly." Source: The Washington Post, Can plants hear? In a study, vibrations prompt some to boost their defenses, July 6, 2014

Plants need to be able to hear insects eating them to they can raise their defenses, so plants are already primed for the evolution of what we might call "ears." All that needs to happen is for these pressure-sensitive cells to cluster together. Then, it would make sense that a structure would form to better gather sound, which would be the exterior portion of the ear. In plants, this part would probably resemble a folded leaf, like a wolf's ear. Depending on the type of plant, the ear might be tightly rolled or loosely cupped. It might be smooth-rimmed like a lily leaf or jagged like an oak leaf.

If your plantimals can move away from danger, that would prompt the evolution of better ears than simple plants have. To a plant, the best it can do with the knowledge that something is coming to eat it is to make itself taste bad. While that's better than nothing, it's not exactly a sure-fire protection. If the plant could actually move away from the predator it would have much better chances of surviving, so a plant that could hear the predator coming before it was already there would have a major advantage.

I don't know exactly what "plant animals" means, but I would say that if you intend your plants to resemble animals, give them two swivel ears of leaves that resemble those of the base plant. If your plantimals are going to look like plants, set the ears close to the stem, probably in the crook of a branch.


You could probably have something similar to sonar. Many animals can locate underground prey with vibrations in the ground. There is a chance you would just have to make something up here though.


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