Journal Article

Lunisolar tidal force and the growth of plant roots, and some other of its effects on plant movements

Peter W. Barlow and Joachim Fisahn

in Annals of Botany

Published on behalf of The Annals of Botany Company

Volume 110, issue 2, pages 301-318
Published in print July 2012 | ISSN: 0305-7364
Published online March 2012 | e-ISSN: 1095-8290 | DOI:
Lunisolar tidal force and the growth of plant roots, and some other of its effects on plant movements

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  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Plant Sciences and Forestry


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Correlative evidence has often suggested that the lunisolar tidal force, to which the Sun contributes 30 % and the Moon 60 % of the combined gravitational acceleration, regulates a number of features of plant growth upon Earth. The time scales of the effects studied have ranged from the lunar day, with a period of approx. 24·8 h, to longer, monthly or seasonal variations.


We review evidence for a lunar involvement with plant growth. In particular, we describe experimental observations which indicate a putative lunar-based relationship with the rate of elongation of roots of Arabidopsis thaliana maintained in constant light. The evidence suggests that there may be continuous modulation of root elongation growth by the lunisolar tidal force. In order to provide further supportive evidence for a more general hypothesis of a lunisolar regulation of growth, we highlight similarly suggestive evidence from the time courses of (a) bean leaf movements obtained from kymographic observations; (b) dilatation cycles of tree stems obtained from dendrograms; and (c) the diurnal changes of wood–water relationships in a living tree obtained by reflectometry.


At present, the evidence for a lunar or a lunisolar influence on root growth or, indeed, on any other plant system, is correlative, and therefore circumstantial. Although it is not possible to alter the lunisolar gravitational force experienced by living organisms on Earth, it is possible to predict how this putative lunisolar influence will vary at times in the near future. This may offer ways of testing predictions about possible Moon–plant relationships. As for a hypothesis about how the three-body system of Earth–Sun–Moon could interact with biological systems to produce a specific growth response, this remains a challenge for the future. Plant growth responses are mainly brought about by differential movement of water across protoplasmic membranes in conjunction with water movement in the super-symplasm. It may be in this realm of water movements, or even in the physical forms which water adopts within cells, that the lunisolar tidal force has an impact upon living growth systems.

Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; leaf movements; lunisolar tidal force; roots; tree stems; water coherence; water movement

Journal Article.  13547 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation ; Evolutionary Biology ; Plant Sciences and Forestry

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