I have read in my biology book that

"nastic movement is the movement that occur due to difference in the rate of growth on two opposite sides of a plant organ" ,

but I can't visualize how this movement take place and how the rate of growth cause this movement?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ All sort of plant movement (including tropic, nastic, everything) and even bending of human hand and fish, take place in quite similar way. Have you ever read about "bi-metallic strip"? it is just like that. $\endgroup$
    – user25568
    Aug 28, 2016 at 11:55

2 Answers 2


Hmm want to visualize. Draw a rainbow. take a measuring tape, and measure the length of the curves. You'll find that the curves from convex, "outer" regions, are longer, and the curves towards concave, "inner" regions are shorter and shorter. Like this.

curve length shorter towards centre of rainbow.

In reverse, if you take 2 rods or sheets of different length, and try to fuse them side-by-side, the whole thing will get bent. The longer object will try to face "outwards", and the shorter object will try to face "inwards". The whole thing would look like a bow.

Reverse event - 2 paper strips of separate size

To test this, you could take 2 paper-strips, of slightly different lengths. Now, stepple their end-portions (so-that no-one lag-behind the other, and whole length of long strip (here 10 cm) interact with whole length of short strip (here 8 cm)). Now if you gently try to stretch the whole thing, you will obtain a bent structure. Longer strip outwards and shorter strip inwards.

We see a similar situation when one side of a masonite-board or a cardboard is wiped with wet cloth, the wet surface soon bent-out, this is plausibly because the wet surface expands.

Now , for continuously growing structure, such as a plant's axis, the all sides grow in almost same speed, if one side grow/expand slightly faster than its opposite side, then faster side will accumulate some more length. Now since all the layers of plant-tissues are tightly attached, no-side will be lagged from the other's but the whole thing will become bent. The "faster" side will try to stay "outer" of the curve, and the "slower" side will try to stay "inner" face of the curve.

A more-similar situation is bi-metallic strip which is made up of 2 layers of separate metals. The 2 metals have difference in their linear thermal expansion coefficients, so, when the strip heated/ cooled, the 2 sides of the strip expands/contracts in separate rate with temperature change; as a result, the strip bents (or if it was already bent, then change its curvature).

A bimetal coil reacts to lighter Image source wikipedia.

Btw "Growth-movement" is not exactly same as "nastic movement". Plants show many-kind of movements. Some of them are "growth-movement" (due to variation of growth rate in different tissues), and some-other movements are due to variation in turgor-pressure.

Nastic movement is one type of movement out of many. It is non-directional response to stimuli (non-directional induced-movement) (in contrast, directional induced movement is called tropic movement such as phototropic movement by-which the photosynthetic axis bend towards light).

A nastic movement could be of growth-type or turgidity-type. Growth-difference is not the defining criterion for the term nastic movement. so the statement "nastic movement is the movement that occur due to difference in the rate of growth on two opposite sides of a plant organ" is technically incorrect.

Let look an example of a nastic movement

photonasty in Oxalis triangularis

  1.  1. photonasty ... on light on light

  2. photonasty ... on dark on dark

Photos from Wikipedia. Photonasty in Oxalis triangularis. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Oxalis_Triangularis_Photonasty_Timelapse.ogg

Note that, in this induced-movement (depending on light), there is no relation between direction of light and direction of leaflet movement. From whatever direction you give the light, the leaflets will arouse ~90 degrees from the axis.

In contrast, if there were any effect of direction of the stimulus, it will be called a tropic movement, such as this positive phototropism image from wikipedia.

Positive phototropism in *Arabidopsis thaliana* shoot Positive phototropism in Arabidopsis thaliana shoot, photo from wikipedia. (Phototropic movements are most common movement in all green plants and we watch it in germinated seedlings from our kid-hood)

There are autonomous (non-induced) movements, too. Such as in Desmodium gyrans or telegraph-plant, a kind of autonomous turgor movement is seen.

*Desmodium gyrans* or telegraph plant. Photo from http://www.biologydiscussion.com/plants/movement/movement-in-plants-with-diagram/23622 youtube links here and here . (However yet I've not the fortune to see this plant directly) .

This classification scheme of plant movements would give a quite better idea.

brief classification scheme of plant movementsbrief classification scheme of plant movements, slightly modified from ** , a college-textbook.

And the most examples of Nastic and Pulvinar movements are of turgidity-type.

Nastic movement in Oxalis sp. is also due to turgor-variation; not due to growth-movement.**

** Reference : Studies in Botany; Vol. 2; D.Mitra, J.Guha, S.K.Chowdhury; Moulik Library kolkata.

any feedback welcome.

  • $\begingroup$ I think you are considering only the movement of leaves and flowers which are indeed non directional. Flower will always close or open no matter from what direction the light is coming from but what about in stems, roots and tendrils which can only show movement in one direction due to difference in the ratio of growth on two opposite sides? Isn't this type of directional movement ? $\endgroup$
    – AksaK
    Aug 29, 2016 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ Stems can show versatile movements. If you are telling about tropic movement (phototropic, geotropic, etc), it's quite easy to imagine if you've understood what I've told. Such as you've grown some seedlings in a pot, and put the pot near window in your room. What movement you can see they're performing (turning to light), is phototropism, a sort of tropic movement. Not Nastic movement. However that bending is a growth movement $\endgroup$
    – user25568
    Aug 29, 2016 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ for climbers there is a complicated mixture of movements. 2 kind of spontaneous movements, nutation and circumnutation, and a tropic movement, Thigmotropism (tropic movement where the stimulus is touch). All them are growth-movements and they ultimately give the ultimate shape of climbers and tendrils. $\endgroup$
    – user25568
    Aug 29, 2016 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ @AksaK Which class or standard are you in? $\endgroup$
    – user25568
    Aug 29, 2016 at 16:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ OK I will check. $\endgroup$
    – AksaK
    Aug 29, 2016 at 17:04

Think about say the left side of a shoot growing more than the right side. That way the left side will be longer and will be pulled back by the right side. This causes the shoot to turn to the right. By controlling the differences in the rates of growth in the two sides (using plant hormones) the plant can control exactly how much the shoot will turn.

Most nastic movements however, are not directional. For example, in Thigmonasty, or the movement due to touch, of the Mimosa pudica (or the touch-me-not), cells at the base of the leaves pump out K+ ions and Cl- ions, while taking in Ca+2 ions, thus create a osmotic gradient and lose water. This loss in water results in a drop in turgor pressure of the leaves and they droop.


  • $\begingroup$ You've wrote " Most nastic movement not directional". is there any nastic movement which is "directional"? (All nastic movement take place in definite directions, but they've no relation with direction of stimulus, by definition). If it had a relationship with direction of the stimulus, it would not be called nastic movement by-definition. It would then called tropic movement. $\endgroup$
    – user25568
    Aug 29, 2016 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ I assume you were trying to write "Most nastic movements are not growth-movements ". Is that? $\endgroup$
    – user25568
    Aug 29, 2016 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for mentioning the molecular process behind turgor change. $\endgroup$
    – user25568
    Aug 29, 2016 at 14:08

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