Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Plant Growth : once a mystery

It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants . . .
Mark 4 31-32 ( NIV )

From a tiny seed, plants are capable to grow to a majestic size.

World largest single stem tree, by volume, is a Giant Sequoia ( Sequoiadendron giganteum ), nicknamed General Sherman, stands 83.8 m tall, and the trunk alone is estimated to weigh over 1,814 metric tonne; is grown from a seed not more than 5mm in length !

How does plant gain its mass ? What caused them to grow ?

Man had since awed by the miraculous growth of plant…   Plant seems to be simply emerged from the earth. Of course some suspected the earth provided the substances for plant growth, as did Aristotle, but what exactly ?

Jean Baptiste van Helmont, in 1648 published in his book Ortus medicinae an experiment he performed on a willow tree planted in a pot for 5 years. He weighted the young tree, soil and the water he added. After 5 years, the plant gained about 164 pounds, the amount of soil remain relatively unchanged. Thus, he deducted that the tree’s weight gain had come from water.

Today, we already know that plant’s mass consists of about 80% water, 19% organic matter, and 1% minerals.

Through a process known as photosynthesis, green plants and certain other organisms transform light energy into chemical energy. Water, carbon dioxide, and minerals are converted into oxygen and energy-rich organic compounds.

At the same time, plants rely on soil for supplying water and mineral elements. Mineral elements are essential and beneficial for optimum plant growth.
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