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No. 54: Nov-Dec 1987

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Plants are not color blind!

"Scientists have long known from laboratory experiments that various colors of light can affect stem size, root structure and other aspects of plant growth. But they have remained largely in the dark about the potential practical benefits of the phenomenon.

"Using colored mulch to bathe plants in reflected light of certain hues, the South Carolina group (Clemson University) has begun to explore what colors plants prefer in agricultural growing conditions. Last year, for example, the group found that tomatoes grown with red mulch -- made with plastic sheets painted red -- had 20% higher yields than those with black mulch. Preliminary results this year show that potatoes and bell peppers grow best with white mulch...."

(Anonymous; "Plants' Colors," Wall Street Journal, September 16, 1987. Cr. J. Covey.)

Comment. Many questions arise here, but we'll take only three: (1) How do plants sense colors? (2) How do different colors mediate growth differently? (3) Is all this explicable in terms of evolution?

From Science Frontiers #54, NOV-DEC 1987. 1987-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987