I was wondering whether plants could feel pain, for example, does grass feel pain when you mow the lawn? Or do the plants and trees that grow vegetables and fruits feel pain when you harvest them?

The internet is very vague about it. There are several articles on the internet, but they just say that plants do not feel pain, they only send out a chemical substance. Others say that almost all multicellular organisms feel pain, because pain is defined as any signal of having impaired tissue.

I think that plants can't feel pain because they have no nerves or central nervous system. However I'm not sure whether this means that plants can't feel pain.

Since the question is clear when pain is defined as any signal of having impaired tissue, I think it would be more interesting in the case that pain is defined as actual discomfort, like humans and animals (maybe it should be restricted to Eumetazoa) feel it.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You'll have to define what you mean by "pain". If you define it as "a signal informing the organism of damage", then yes, they do. If you refer to pain as your or I would feel it, that's a different matter. $\endgroup$
    – terdon
    Jul 26, 2015 at 11:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to Biology.SE. The whole issue is around the definition of pain. Tell us what pain is and we'll tell whether plants do have this sensation. I am voting to close as primarily-opinion based. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jul 26, 2015 at 19:55
  • $\begingroup$ @terdon I have added the definition. $\endgroup$
    – wythagoras
    Jul 26, 2015 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Remi.b I've added a definition of pain, but I'm unsure what you mean by primarily-opinion based. Can you clarify? $\endgroup$
    – wythagoras
    Jul 26, 2015 at 20:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You suggest to define pain as any signal of having impaired tissue. This seems like a perfectly valid definition to me. It seems a bit counter-intuitive but it is valid. I'd suggest to restrict your last paragraph to this specific discussion instead and to get rid of the term pain to say "sensing impaired tissue" instead. It might interest you to open a post on Philosophy.SE to ask for definitions of pain that would be easily apply to any living things. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jul 26, 2015 at 22:52

1 Answer 1


I think before discussing "pain", we'd probably have to discuss whether plants actually can "feel".

This is also down to how one wants to define this (hence "opinion based"), but I assume most people (?) would equal the lack of a brain/neurons with the lack of the capability to feel. And I presume so do you, as you show by using the tag "neuroscience".

In which case the answer to your question "Can plants feel pain?" is "no", regardless of whether plants react to damage through the release of chemicals or not, and whether one would like to classify this as "pain" or not.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .