. . . When a tree is pruned, does it suffer?
This was the question posted in the NY Times Science Q&A on Dec. 23.
My quick answer: no . . . plants don’t have nerves or a central nervous system associated with what we think of as “pain”.
As Amy Litt pointed out in the NY Times article, however, plants do mount a response to injury (e.g. pruning of a limb), insect attack or pathogen infection. This is an important and active area of research that’s important to plant pathologists in the development stress-tolerant, disease and pest-resistant crops.
Related video > Can Plants Think?