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Black flowers

Tony Travis ajt at rri.sari.ac.uk
Fri Apr 28 07:07:38 EST 1995

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

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