ajt at rri.sari.ac.uk (Tony Travis) writes:
>Jeffrey Kirby (ez043438 at bullwinkle.ucdavis.edu) wrote:
>: In reality there really is no such thing as a black flower, short of a
>: painted one. Not to my knowledge. There are flowers that are very close,
>An interesting thought occured to me about black plants:
>Objects appear black when all the light incident upon them is absorbed
>so an entirely black plant should, in principle, be the most efficient
>for photosynthesis and would _prevent_ light reaching plants in lower
>strata of a canopy that are competing with it!!
>So, why don't plants have black leaves?
>Well, there are lots of reasons ;-)
>One is that the radiation load would make the leaves too hot. Another
>is that forests and other vegatation canopies would be entirely dark,
>so dispersal by pollenating insects and berry eating animals would be
>impossible in complete darkness.
>Yet another is that older leaves would be completely shaded by opaque
>young leaves and would, therefore, become metabolic sinks ...
>One undergraduate lecture I remember well is the 'ideal' plant which
>should have a single, spherical, fruit and one hexagonal leaf (so there
>are no gaps between plants) to intercept the maximum available light!!
>Perhaps I could now add that the leaf should also be black so that all
>the available light is absorbed ;-)
>Any other thoughts about 'ideal' plants??
>Dr. A.J.Travis, | JANET: <ajt at uk.ac.sari.rri>
>Rowett Research Institute, | other: <ajt at rri.sari.ac.uk>
>Greenburn Road, Bucksburn, | phone: +44 (0)224 712751
>Aberdeen, AB2 9SB. UK. | fax: +44 (0)224 716687
I hate to contradict, but it may be possible to have black plants.
There is a report by C.H. Dodson and the late A.H. Gentry 
Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 78:273. They report finding
plants with black leaves in forests in Equador. Very exciting.
Unfortunately, this area has been deforested and the plants are
thought to be now extinct. Perhaps a great lost opportunity . ..
John Markwell Phone: 402-472-2924
Dept. Biochemistry FAX: 402-472-7842
University of Nebraska Internet: markwell at unl.edu
Lincoln, NE 68583-0718