Saturday, May 25, 2013

it’s chemical

Goodness knows I’m not practical. 

If I were I’d find another job that paid more money and I’d eventually grow up.

I’d also stop staring off into space pondering this and that. But, I think, taking time to ponder things is a lost art. We just need to slow down, take a deep breath and ponder a bit. We're much too busy scurrying about like lemmings and, you know, I get the sense there's a cliff up ahead.

Precisely because our human world makes little sense, I’m in awe of the natural world because it does. Nature is remarkably practical. You ask a simple question and you get a simple answer.

An aside: A naturalist is someone who believes in the doctrine that the world can be understood in scientific terms or someone knowledgeable about natural history, especially botany and zoology. (A naturist is a person who practices nudity because they think it is healthy and a naturist naturalist is someone that ponders the world naked. But don't they get cold? And what about poison ivy?)

Three days ago I wondered why new leaves are a lighter, chartreuse green. (Thousands of people seem to be wondering why Lindsay Lohan can’t hold it together, and me, I’m pondering leaf color. Go figure.)

It turns out new leaf green is chemical. With plants, most things are. At first, leaves are yellow-green because they're filled with chlorophyll a, which is a lighter pigment and reflects more light. Later in the season these leaves create darker chlorophyll b. Darker colors absorb more light. When the canopy of leaves is finally complete, many of the little carbohydrate-making factories find themselves in the shade of other leaves, so they have to produce more chlorophyll b to turn darker, so that they can absorb more light to aid in photosynthesis.

On the same tree, the leaves in full sun at the top of the tree are lighter than the leaves in the shade at the bottom.

Now, I may have to climb a few trees to check this out but let's hear it for chlorophyll a! Lovely, chartreuse chlorophyll a.

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