Plant Movements

Plant Movements

  • Plants exhibit various movements, both spontaneous and induced, which are crucial for their survival, growth, and response to the environment. Understanding these movements is essential to comprehend how plants interact with their surroundings.


Spontaneous (Autonomic) Movements:

  • Movements and Locomotion:

- Plants display spontaneous movements in response to internal stimuli, such as changes in turgor pressure within cells. An example is the opening and closing of stomata, tiny pores on leaves, to regulate gas exchange and water loss. 

- Locomotion in plants is typically limited, but some examples include the movements of certain plant parts like tendrils in climbing plants or the twisting movements of growing roots searching for water and nutrients. 

  • Growth and Curvature Movement:

- Plants exhibit growth movements in response to external stimuli like light (phototropism), gravity (gravitropism), and touch (thigmotropism). For instance, phototropism causes plants to bend towards a light source, optimizing photosynthesis. 

- Curvature movements involve bending or curvature of plant parts towards or away from a stimulus. For example, positive phototropism results in the bending of stems towards light, while negative gravitropism causes roots to grow downwards. 

  • Variation Movements:

- These movements involve changes in plant structures, such as the opening and closing of flowers or the folding of leaves in response to environmental conditions like temperature or humidity. An example is nyctinasty, where flowers close at night and open during the day.


Induced (Paratonic) Movements:

  • Tropic Movements:

- Tropic movements are induced movements in response to directional stimuli, such as light or gravity. Phototropism and gravitropism are examples of tropic movements where plants grow towards or away from a light source or gravity, respectively, to optimize growth and survival. 

- There are two main types of tropism: positive tropism and negative tropism.

1. Positive Tropism:

Positive tropism occurs when a plant grows towards the direction of the stimulus. This movement is considered positive because it is in the direction that benefits the plant's growth or survival. 


Phototropism is the growth of a plant towards a light source. In positive phototropism, plants bend or grow towards the light, allowing them to maximize photosynthesis and energy production. This phenomenon is essential for the efficient utilization of light energy by plants.




Thigmotropism is the growth or movement of a plant in response to touch or contact with solid objects. In positive thigmotropism, plants grow towards the source of contact, enabling them to anchor themselves for support or to climb structures such as walls or trellises.





Chemotropism involves the directional growth of plant roots towards or away from specific chemicals in the soil. In positive chemotropism, roots grow towards areas with higher concentrations of essential nutrients or water, facilitating efficient nutrient uptake and hydration.




2. Negative Tropism:

Negative tropism occurs when a plant grows away from the direction of the stimulus. This movement is considered negative because it is away from the source of the stimulus, which may be detrimental to the plant's growth or survival. 

Gravitropism (Geotropism):

Gravitropism is the growth or movement of a plant in response to gravity. In negative gravitropism (also known as geotropism), plant roots grow downwards, away from the direction of gravity, while stems and shoots grow upwards, against gravity. This allows roots to penetrate deeper into the soil for anchorage and water uptake, while shoots reach towards light for photosynthesis.




Negative Phototropism:

Negative phototropism occurs when plants grow away from a light source. While less common than positive phototropism, negative phototropism can be observed in certain plant species where growth away from intense light helps prevent damage to sensitive tissues or excessive transpiration. 

  • Tactic Movements:

- Tactic movements involve directional responses to stimuli other than light or gravity. For instance, chemotropism is a type of tactic movement where plants grow towards or away from chemicals in the soil, guiding root growth towards nutrient-rich areas. 

  • Nastic Movements:

- Nastic movements are reversible, non-directional movements in response to stimuli such as touch or temperature changes. Examples include the rapid closing of venus flytrap leaves in response to touch, or the folding of mimosa leaves when disturbed.