Sunday, 16 August 2015

C4 Plants

What are C4 plants?

Basically they are plants that undertake photosynthesis in a different way enabling them to continue to grow during hot and dry conditions. To better understand this lets quickly recap on photosynthesis.

All plants require carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in order for photosynthesis to occur and plants obtain this carbon dioxide via tiny openings on the underside of the plant leaf, these tiny openings are called stomata. The stomata also provide the exit of H2O from the plant.

When soil water resources are low small openings usually on the underside of the leaves called the stomata close to reduce the loss of water from the plant. This also reduces the incoming carbon dioxide as plants absorb CO2 through these same stomata. Without C02 plants cannot photosynthesis and growth halts.  When a plant is wilting it has reached this point.
Some plants have adapted to overcome this and one particular group of grasses and tropical plants, the C4 plants,  are able to close stomatal pores in order to reduce water loss whilst still obtaining carbon dioxide thereby maintaining photosynthesis in hot and dry conditions.

C4 Plants, Examples, and C4 Families

They are found only in the angiosperms with about 8,000 members in 17 families equivalent to about 3% of all land plants. Combined, the grasses (family Poaceae or Gramineae) and sedges (family Cyperaceae) comprise roughly 79% of the total number of C4 species (Simpson 2010).

Examples of C4 species are the economically important crops corn or maize (Zea mays), sugarcane (Saccharum officinarum), sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), and millets.

Other examples include, couch or bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon), barnyard grass (Echinocloa spp.), goosegrass (Eleusine indica), Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense), cogon (Imperata cylindrica), common purslane or alusiman (Portulaca oleracea), crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis), several species of pigweed (Amaranthus spp.), carabao grass (Paspalum conjugatum), itchgrass (Rottboellia exaltata), and Russian thistle or tumbleweed (Salsola kali) (Llewellyn 2000; Moore et al. 2003).

We are working on a model to use these plants to produce seed free biomass for mulching an establishing forest farm. See here for more on that.

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Upcoming Courses

If you would like to create a forest garden and gain some practical hands on experience come and join us this Autumn. We'll be covering site surveying, landscape design software, installing access, beds, irrigation channels, planting tree, shrub, herb and ground layers and wildlife ponds. All in 3 days! And plenty of follow up material to take away with you to digest slowly.

Registration for our October course is now open with 15% discount on accommodation and food fees when you register as a group (2 or more).

If you appreciate the work we are doing you can show your support in several ways.

  • Comment, like and share our content on social media.

Polyculture/Regenerative Landscape Design Webinars 

This season we are running live interactive sessions hosted on Zoom on a range of topics. You can register for a  webinar here.

Would you like to be involved in the project? We are currently offering 1 - 6 month positions on our polyculture study.

Permaculture and Regenerative Design Internships 

We offer a diversity of plants and seeds for permaculture and forest gardens including a range of fruit and nut cultivars. We Deliver all over Europe from Nov - March.

We also offer a range of products all year round from our Online Store 

Give a happy plant a happy home :) 

1 comment:

  1. This article about plant design is so much informative. Here i see a lots of information and also befits of plants. I took help from plant design Calgary, Alberta and they did really awesome work.