Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Thigmomorphogenesis: May Word of the Month

Wind direction from the right creates an asymmetric hedge, photo courtesy The Garden Professors

Excerpted from: Your new word for the day – thigmomorphogenesis, Linda Chalker-Scott, The Garden Professors

 Thigmomorphogenesis: this is a great word for those who enjoy figuring out word meanings by deciphering the (usually) Greek or Latin roots. (This exercise also helps you figure out how to pronounce it.) We have “thigmo-” which means touch, “-morpho-” which means appearance, and “-genesis” which means beginning. String them all together and you get the phenomenon seen when plants respond to mechanical stimulation by changing their growth pattern and hence the way they look.

You can easily see examples of thigmomorphogenesis in everyday life. Look at a line of hedge plants where the plants on the end are more susceptible to wind movement and brushing by people, animals or vehicles. They are always shorter, aren’t they? Plants subjected to chronic thigmomorphogenic forces are generally shorter than their neighbors and thicker in girth.