Friday, June 26, 2015

like a fat kid at the doughnut case

The past two weeks have kicked my butt. I’ll just say that they have involved falling in love with and giving away the best kitten in the world, stressful challenges at work, being sick (twice), being hit in a very scary car accident, friends moving away, and numerous other challenges and confrontations that, when added together, will just get a gal down.

Yesterday, I had the good, unexpected laugh that I’ve needed. You see, two weeks ago, I bought basil and mint plants at the farmers market and placed them in my kitchen window. I haven’t been overly attentive to them, instead glancing at them quickly each morning as I grab some breakfast and rush out of my house. I’ve noticed that the mint plant seems to be growing in height, not so much sprouting leaves. But finding a sunnier spot for it hasn’t been at the top of my priority list.

So yesterday, I came home and sloughed into my kitchen for a glass of water to find my mint plant with all of its leaves plastered to the window like a fat kid looking in doughnut case at the grocery store. I can’t tell you exactly why I found this to be so hilarious, but I definitely stood in my kitchen laughing by myself like a maniac for a solid minute.

It occurred to me that Minty (that’s what I’m calling it now- I’m having kitten withdrawals don’t you judge me) was doing some pretty neat things in my window sill. First off, it’s not growing the big leaves I’d like to put in my iced tea. Instead, it’s become lanky and growing stem length. This is a behavior (that’s right, plants behave) it has evolved to find sunlight when it’s not getting enough. Also, it’s moving its leaves to maximize the sunlight that it can find. Minty is being very proactive for Minty’s well being. I’m proud.

This begs the question- how does a plant A.) “know” wtf is going on around it B.) “act” on those conditions? Where are the sensing organs to tell it it’s not getting enough sun? How does the info from those sensors translate into movements and actions? Do plants have plant nerves?

Answer: plants do stuff via plant hormones.

Giberellins are the class of hormones responsible for stem elongation. Right now, they’re coursing through the vascular system of Minty, only affecting cells and tissues that they’re supposed to activate. Giberellins are flowing through the puny leaves just like they are the stems, but only causing growth in stems. This is just how human hormones work too.
Giberellin organic structure.

Once I find a sunnier home for my plants, they’ll signal to lower the production of gibberellins and to up the production of cytokinins, which will cause leaf growth. Which means I will be enjoying some iced tea very soon.

So next time you walk past a plant, you may want to offer it some chocolates and tell it it’s pretty. You never know what kind of hormonal swings our plant cousins are enduring.