Lauderdale Beginner
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Posts by Lauderdale

    Chlorine is found in small amounts in the sap and in the ash of nearly all plants. However, it does not appear to be essential to the growth of a plant, except possibly in the case of certain species, such as asparagus, buckwheat, and, perhaps, turnips and some other root crops. Whether the benefit which these crops derive from the application of common salt to the soil in which they are growing is due to the direct food value of either the chlorine, or the sodium, or to some indirect effect, is not yet known.

    The whole cycle of chemical changes which is involved in plant growth represents the net result of two opposite processes; the first of these is a constructive one which has at least three different phases: namely, a synthesis of complex organic compounds, the translocation of this synthetized material to the centers of growth, and the building up of this food material into tissues or reserve supplies; and the second is a destructive process of respiration whereby carbohydrate material is broken down, potential energy is released, and carbon dioxide is excreted.

    The synthetic processes which take place in plants are of two types; namely, photosynthesis, in which sugars are produced, and another, which has no specific name, whereby proteins are elaborated. The translocation of the synthetized material involves the change of insoluble compounds into soluble ones, effected by the aid of enzymes. For storage purposes, the soluble forms are usually, though not always, condensed again into more complex forms, these latter changes requiring much less energy than do the original syntheses from raw materials.

    Photosynthesis is the process whereby chlorophyll-containing plants, in the presence of sunlight, synthetize organic compounds from water and carbon dioxide. The end-product of photosynthesis is always a carbohydrate. Chemical compounds belonging to other groups, mentioned in the preceding chapter, are synthetized by plants from the carbohydrates and simple raw materials; but in such cases the energy used is not solar energy and the process is not photosynthesis.

    Much study has been given during recent years to the question of the supposed poisonous, or toxic, effects upon plants of various soil constituents. There seems to be no doubt that certain organic compounds which are injurious to plant life are often present in the soil, either as the normal excretions of plant roots or as products of the decomposition of preceding plant growths.