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Why aren't plants black, to maximise light energy absorbtion?

  1. TFScientist profile image89
    TFScientistposted 6 years ago

    Why aren't plants black, to maximise light energy absorbtion?


  2. Bukarella profile image84
    Bukarellaposted 6 years ago

    Well, the plants are green because chlorophyll is green. And I'm guessing chlorophyll is not black, because there has to be a balance in how much light is absorbed, otherwise, plants would have more difficult time surviving really hot summer days.

    (just a guess)

  3. Patty Inglish, MS profile image92
    Patty Inglish, MSposted 6 years ago

    At least 75 plants are black instead of green, and this list targeted by author Paul Bonine likely does not take into account species such as the Black Tomatoes group. read more

  4. duffsmom profile image61
    duffsmomposted 6 years ago


  5. TFScientist profile image89
    TFScientistposted 6 years ago

    To be clear, I understand fully why plants are green...indeed I teach this to my A level pupils.

    I was merely wondering why chlorophyll isn't black - this would absorb the full percentage of the visible light spectrum and thus make photosynthesis much more efficient. Plants could grow faster, for longer and in a wider range of environments.

    Any ideas?

  6. scottcgruber profile image79
    scottcgruberposted 6 years ago

    I remember seeing a story about this last year - a new paper proposing that plants on an exoplanet orbiting a red dwarf star or binary would be black or gray for this reason. I'd guess that plants in general aren't black here (we do have some with almost-black leaves) is because they didn't need to maximize absorption - chloroplasts got all the energy they needed being green.

    Perhaps heat has something to do with it as well, as anyone who has ever sat on a black car seat on a hot summer day can attest. Black chlorophyll may have damaged the early cyanobacteria by overheating, and so green chlorophyll prevailed.