Static electricity and houseplants

Asked January 23, 2019, 5:26 PM EST

Can a plant feel static electricity from my touch and does it harm it

District of Columbia County District of Columbia

1 Response

We contacted a University of Maryland plant biologist about your question and here is her reply:

Plants have an electrostatic charge, like other living things. An electrostatic interaction between bees and flowers has been observed. See the following research paper about bumblebees and detection of floral electric fields.

When a caterpillar munches on a leaf, it also sends an electrical signal to the rest of the plant and defense responses are turned on. The plant does not “feel” like animals do. It is likely that an electrostatic shock will momentarily change the charge of the plant (in the region of contact), like when the bee lands on the flower. Therefore, the electrostatic charge could elicit a response. However, I do not think that it harms the plant, in my opinion.