Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biology Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for biology researchers, academics, and students. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have a plant on my desk, and it got me to wondering: Can my plant use the light from my monitors to photosynthesize? If so, what light (apart from green light, to a degree) can't plants use to perform photosynthesis?

I know that plants have the photosynthetic pigments to absorb many different wavelengths of light (primarily red and blue) but would there be certain types of light it can't use?

(The specific plant by the way is Schlumbergera truncata)

share|improve this question
add comment

1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Chlorophyll can use a quite broad range of light for photosynthesis, the only range where it is not working is approximately between 500 and 620nm. See this adsorption spectrum of chlorophyll (from the Wikipedia article on Chlorophyll):

enter image description here

The lack of chlorophyll to absorb light between 500 and 620nm (roughly) results in the green color of leafs, because this light is reflected. Besides the wavelength also the energy of the light is important, so plants will grow better in sunlight than in the light of your monitor. This link about the maximum effectiveness of photosynthesis is also interesting.

share|improve this answer
    
I like this image because it also shows why chlorophyll is green. –  daniel May 8 at 16:31
    
Would I be right to assume, then, that the monitor's red and blue pixels would be useful for the plant, while the green would not? (granted, a monitor produces so much less light than the sun that having it nearby isn't doing much for the plant...just theoretical) –  Tim S. May 8 at 17:29
    
Theoretical, yes. And this is what special growth lamps for plants do. They leave out parts of the spectrum. The Wikipedia article I linked contains a photo of such an installation. –  Chris May 8 at 17:50
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.