Can moonlight affect plant growth?

Life on earth would be very different without our natural satellite. Most would agree that the daily ebb and flow of the moon along with the monthly growth and decline cycles have an impact on our oceans and seas. The tides are essential for life: tidal pools, protected and renewed at the rate of these cycles, catalyzed some of the first stable ecologies and still represent unique niches. While it’s not that widespread yet, it’s becoming clearer that the moon also affects the flow of water through plants: sap moves more vigorously during the growth phase when the moon becomes full and slows down as the moon wears a thin morning crescent.

Isabella Guerrini, at the University of Perugia in Italy, works in the Agriculture Department, where she studies plant and animal consciousness and their integration into ecological patterns and rhythms. Their observations of the flow of sap in plants confirm that fluid actually flows when the moon fills up and slows down when the moon subsides. They have important consequences for plant growth and pruning: vigorous, juicy plants suffer if they are cut, harvested or pruned near the full moon. The leaking juice first exposes the plant to disease and pests. In addition, sap from a clipped plant that has now been stripped of its main outlet will penetrate smaller channels where new buds will develop on the side branches and possibly tear these channels, causing the buds to die (a phenomenon known as “moon burn” Less vigorous, less succulent plants, such as ground cover or vines, can conversely benefit when the sap flow is strong: they will stimulate the development of side shoots and a fuller, branched one Promote growth.

Those who work with plants every day have certainly noticed differences in moisture levels, taste (i.e. chemistry), and more. This can have important ramifications for a number of uses, from medicine to construction. For an excellent review of the subject, see the article by Ian Cole and Michael Balick. The authors discuss a number of traditional practices related to the moon phase, from harvesting building and straw materials to planting staple foods to collecting medicines. In their review of contemporary research, they catalog differences in plant chemistry and fluid balance based on seasonal and circadian (day-long) rhythms. Note, however, that studies examining lunar rhythms are still very rare. In my personal experiment, I agree that the taste and phytochemical variations are most evident as part of a seasonal cycle, but moisture levels (once variables such as rainfall are taken into account) are very closely tied to the lunar cycle. The water weight in a botanical sample can vary by up to 10% between the days before the full moon and the week before the new moon. This corresponds to what the researchers found in wood: wood made from spruce and chestnut, which was harvested in the last week of the moon phase, has the lowest water content and shrinks the least when it dries. Rumor has it that the wooden stilts on which Venice was built were all harvested in the last days of the lunar cycle: less water and denser fibers mean less susceptibility to rot and parasites.

Ernst Zürcher, who published the research on wood harvesting, expanded the work of Cole and Balick and cataloged the changes in moisture content and the effects on the germination, growth and development of plants in many different plants related to lunar cycles. The conclusions are consistent: there is indeed a lunar effect. However, he also points out that the simple explanation (a flood-like gravity) is most likely wrong, since even the amount of water in the largest tree is relatively small and a tidal force would be negligible. One intriguing hypothesis is that moonlight itself can contribute to electromagnetic effects that alter the surface tension of water and allow for some of the microscopic effects that have been experimentally documented. All plants grow differently in different phases of the moon – this has been observed in scientific research since the 1970s and has recently been documented on a microscopic level by observing changes in root growth. But how? Why-This question is still unsolved.

What we do know is that moonlight, although generally similar to the sunlight it reflects, shifts a bit towards infrared (see above spectral curve from CIRA, at Colorado State University) and also has some gaps, which may be related to the presence of traces of sodium in the lunar atmosphere. Not only does this make moonlight a less intense version of sunlight – it is also qualitatively different. Dr. Guerrini has speculated that the rhythmic, additional irradiation by moonlight is an important addition to the growth and metabolism of healthy plants: not only changes in growth and leaf movements, but also the patterns of starch storage (most pronounced in the waning phase) can be observed ) and usage (highest in the days before the full moon). Together with the preliminary documentation of the immune deficiency and the poor wound healing of plants that are withdrawn from the moonlight, these effects are stimulated to consider moonlight as an important part of the entire “nutrition” of a plant. Interestingly, this “diet” appears to be a modulation of bioelectrical activity rather than a source of photosynthetic energy.

In summary, the moonlight is subtle – usually only about 15% as strong as sunlight, even at peak times. But its rays penetrate the soil and affect plant life from germination to harvest. Most plants seem to have rhythmic exposure to moonlight – at least for a week or so around the full moon – for optimal immunity, wound healing, regeneration, and growth. When harvesting plants, the lunar cycle should ideally be observed, not only because of its potency and low water content, but because many plants (especially strong, vigorous growers) recover better if they are harvested in the last week of the lunar cycle.

Modern research corroborates many of the observations recorded in the oral tradition of farmers, foresters, and herbalists, but is just beginning to explain why.

It appears that the subtle effects of moonlight can alter the behavior of water when it comes into contact with living cells, possibly through bioelectrical mechanisms. As the ancient myths say, the moon is a powerful force that regulates the invisible, yin-like processes that are hidden beneath the surfaces of things and are deeply associated with water and moisture. Simple explanations of the effects can often be headed in the wrong direction – the moon seems to give us a trail, but that trail often leads to places we would never expect. But just as tidal forces helped shape early life on our planet, the more hidden effects that we are only just beginning to understand are essential to sustaining healthy life on earth.

Plants by the moon

The factors that affect plant growth are complex and vary widely. The basic concept, however, is quite simple. When the moon gets stronger towards the full moon, the flow of sap is more active. Conversely, the flow of sap slows down as the moon subsides.

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