why are plants green?

From our earliest childhood, when we are asked to draw a tree or a plant, we use the green crayon. It is something we have accepted and normalised, like the sky is blue and the clouds are white. But have you ever wondered why plants are green? and why some plants are beautifully coloured, like the triostar calathea? Today we explain the mechanisms behind the colour of plants.

I love you green

Chlorophyll is responsible for the beautiful green colour of most plants. Chlorophyll is a pigment found on the surface of plant leaves, stems, leaves and fruit. But its mission goes beyond giving plants a nice shade, it is a photoreceptor; that is, it is responsible for absorbing the light necessary for the process of photosynthesis to occur, which allows the plant to manufacture its own food.

Sunlight is a wave that includes all spectrums and wavelengths, which are of different colours although the human eye can only perceive them when the light passes through a prism. Plants prefer light of certain wavelengths, as they are the most efficient for photosynthesis: blue and red light are the best, so they have developed specialised cells that allow them to capture only those waves, absorbing them.

and what happens to the colours it doesn't need or doesn't need? They bounce them back, and that's precisely what we perceive. Those cells specialised in absorbing red and blue light are the chlorophyll and as they do not use green light, because it is weak and of poor quality, they bounce it and that is why we see plants in that colour.

what about plants that are not green?

While chlorophyll is the most important pigment because it is directly responsible for photosynthesis, plants have other pigments that come to the fore when there is little sunlight, such as in autumn. Plants have carotenoids, which produce orange, yellow or brown tones. There are also anthocyanins, which stain purple and red. In fact, it is these pigments that give flowers and fruits their colours.

Plants are green because they have a higher concentration of chlorophyll, but there are some species in which the other pigments predominate, and this gives them a particular colouring. For example, in the case of triostar calathea, it is easy to see that they have a lot of anthocyanins because they have nice pink tones.

I'm sure you're wondering how these plants survive, because they have little chlorophyll which is directly responsible for photosynthesis. There are several theories about this, but the most popular one is that these plants have adapted to survive with very little chlorophyll as a survival strategy. These plants changed their colour to defend themselves against some insects, which are usually green to camouflage themselves with the leaves of the plants they devour. If the plant is a different colour, it contrasts and allows the insect to be visible to its predators. In this way it avoids the pests that threaten its livelihood.

Colour tells you everything

Just as when you see someone pale and you sense that they may be ill, the colour of the plant is an excellent indicator of the plant's health and needs. A healthy plant, receiving all the light and nutrients it needs, will respond by creating lots of chlorophyll, so the colour of its leaves will be strong, uniform and bright.

Being a pigment that is produced in the presence of sunlight, if the plant does not receive adequate light, it will stop producing it and may stop, resulting in pale leaves that eventually fall off. This is a normal process in autumn, but if it happens to your indoor plants, it means that you need to improve their lighting conditions.

If you water too much and there is no good drainage, then the plant has waterlogged roots and cannot provide the nutrients needed for chlorophyll synthesis, so the whole plant will turn yellow. If the colour change occurs unevenly, it is because your plant is not receiving enough water and has decided to stop producing chlorophyll in certain leaves so that they die, thus avoiding water loss through transpiration and saving the little water it has.

Observing your plants will allow you to become familiar with their colour and general appearance, so you will be able to easily notice any changes or alterations; also contemplating that beautiful green tone will fill you with calm, as there are studies that prove that they serve to eradicate stress. Let spending time with your plants become a habit, I assure you that you will begin to notice the benefits.
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About the author
Ame Rodríguez

Dedicated to creating an army of cacti, succulents, poodles and cats to help me conquer the world. In the little free time I have left, I play, write and dance.

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