People and animals recognize their siblings and generally treat them differently than unrelated acquaintances. Scientists wanted to know: do plants do the same thing?
Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, studied the Great Lakes searocket with the hope of finding out. This member of the mustard family grows on the sandy beaches of lakes and the Atlantic coast. First, they collected seeds along a beach. They kept a record of which seeds were collected from the same mother plant. Then they planted the seeds in groups. Some of the groups had unrelated plants, while other groupings were all siblings.
After the plants had grown long enough to develop good, aggressive root systems, researchers carefully removed the root systems from the sand in which they were growing. After rinsing and drying the roots, they weighed each plant's root system. They learned that unrelated plants growing in a group had 15 percent more root system than siblings growing together. In other words, unrelated plants grew a more aggressive root system for gathering water and nutrients. Siblings were less aggressive toward each other. In short, sibling plants seemed to have recognized each other.
Just as godly Abram did not wish to aggressively compete with his nephew, apparently some plants do the same.