According to research called “Nitroaromatic detection and infrared communication from wild-type plants using plant nanobionics” published online in journal Nature, “living spinach plants (Spinacia oleracea) can be engineered to serve as self-powered pre-concentrators and auto samplers of analytes in ambient groundwater and as infrared communication platforms that can send information to a smartphone.”
The research paper mentioned here is almost four years old but the internet just got hold of it.
Now, let’s make it clear that the spinach in your kitchen cannot be trained to literally compose emails and send them for you. In technical sense, scientists have figured out a way to turn spinach leaves into sensors. When these sensors receive signals about a specific type of compound in the ground, they emit a signal which is read by an infrared camera that sends an email alert to the scientists.
While spinach may not be composing emails, the research hold great potential and value. This experiment is part of a wider field of research which involves engineering electronic components and systems into plants. The technology is known as “plant nanobionics”.
The idea of spinach being trained to send emails quickly got to the internet and twitter was soon flooded with memes and posts.