Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

*Black Plants |

  1. Oct 1, 2005 #1
    NOT homework, just curious :redface:

    (*Let's say we have some healthy albeit imaginary black plants :smile:)

    :eek: Would "black plants" pose a strict threat to the population of our currently flora (which happens to be green) ?

    By "black plants" => photosynthetically-superior to green plants, in being able to absorb all wavelengths of visible light (i.e., green is NOT reflected off)
    Basically, how would the introduction of black plants affect Earth's biomes and the ecosystems within them?

    For example, (I suppose?)
    1) Black plants might absorb more heat, so tropical rainforests might not be strongly affected due to high external humidity preventing greater necessary transpiration ??

    2) Tundras may be strongly affected. Extra photosynthetic capability of black plants helps combat the effect of permafrost ?? Not much heat in tundras either...?
    By "black plants," superior primarily in photosynthetic productivity (compared to green plants),

    *What effects might the introduction of "black plants" have on Earth's biomes and the ecosystems within them, in general?

    *And specifically on the populations of green plants?
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 1, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    As far as competeition with green plants goes- Plants that can absorb more light would only have an advantage in areas where light is a limiting factor. Other limiting factors include CO2, water and nutrient (particularly phospherous) avaliability.
  4. Oct 7, 2005 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    If a photosynthetically superior group of plants were competing side by side with our present plants, they may grow quicker and create greater biomass. They could overgrow or crowd out the inferior green plants and shift the ecosystem in their favor. Much like pernicious weeds such as kudzu has done. kudzu 1 and kudzu 2.

    As matthyaouw also pointed out, in a light limiting environment, they may out compete and overcrowd the inferior green plants. Other environmental parameters are equally important. If the black plants were not as heat tolerant say in semitropical ecosystem or as cold tolerant in northern temperate zone; as the green plants, they would not fair as well. Similarly, if they were not as salt tolerant in a maritime coastal ecosystem, they would not fair as well. If they were not as drought tolerant in a xeric ecosystem, they would not fair as well.

    Now if they were very cold tolerant and could grow on polar ice caps, then you would have a new problem, all the polar ice would melt, raising sea levels, flooding most of the coastal cities around the world, shutting down the major ocean currents like the Gulf Stream, the north Atlantic Current, and the one Nemo boarded the EAC (Eastern Australian Current), causing cataclysmic climatic change around the world, resulting in famine, mass extinctions or at least a large shift in animal populations.

    If these black plants could grow on the oceans & lakes, they would eventually cover 70% of the earth's surface and if they grew equally well on land, they would cover an additional 29%. If our planet were composed of more hydrogen and a bit more massive, all the heat absorbed by the black foliage may ignite the earth into a new sun!! :cool:
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2005
  5. Oct 16, 2005 #4
    I think being a black plant would be a disadvantage in non-light-limited environments. Green plants usually absorb more light than they can use, and this can be a problem for them. They have to get rid of all the extra energy, or it can damage their chloroplasts. Plants have adaptations for that, like certain pigments which dissipate the extra energy.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: *Black Plants |
  1. Ancestor of plant? (Replies: 3)

  2. Plant stomota (Replies: 2)

  3. Respiration in plants (Replies: 1)