1. I have grown sunflowers on and off for the past several years. They always seem to move or grow from east to west each day. It’s seems as if they follow the path of the sun as it goes through the sky throughout the day. What I would like to know is do they really grow towards the sun, or is it an illusion?
2. One form of reasoning that could explain this phenomenon is the flowers simply gravitate towards the heat of the sun’s rays because that is what the plants need to produce seeds. It could also be where the growth cells within the flower are located. Another explanation could be maybe the plant’s circadian rhythms enable to grow in one direction during the day and in another during the evening or it just be the sunflowers are attempting to absorb as much of the sun’s rays as they can for survival.
3. The hypothesis for this experiment will face the sun because it is heliotropic, which simply means it faces the sun. This is not uncommon, as a sunflower is far from the only plant to grow in this way. Heliotrophism enables plants to maximize photosynthesis and there could be chemical reactions within the plant that cause the side farthest from the sun to grow faster than the one closest to the light.
4. To test our hypothesis, we will observe the growth of sunflowers while adjusting their location and their light source for several days, then record the results to see if they truly grow towards the sun.
5. Our experiment did prove our hypothesis. We did not use fully adult sunflowers outdoors, but rather three plants that were in an intermediate stage and could be kept in pots. They were placed on a stand near a large window but not directly in it and were rotated away from the source of light on six separate occasions. They were pointing back towards the sun every time!
6. It appears that sunflowers are heliotrophic. Their growth is triggered by the amount of light they can process and the plants do experience chemical reactions that cause each side to grow at different rates depending on the location of the sun.
7. Our discovery is certainly important to scientists because they could use this information to conduct more experiments on heliotrophism. Especially since it could be determined why some plants are heliotropic and others are not. Our research could certainly be submitted to the Journal of Biological Education and would fit quite well.
8. Other professionals within the field of biology would find the results of this experiment worthwhile to retest and come to their own conclusions. Heliotrophism could become extremely important in coming decades to possibly develop alternative fuel and food sources for the world’s burgeoning population. An experiment such as this is not complex but lays the foundation for more detailed discoveries that could be of great import to future generations.