Do You Know Which Way Vines Grow?

It’s an interesting natural phenomenon that 92% of all vines and plants that twist and climb, do so in a counterclockwise direction.
People living in the northern hemisphere at one time believed that vines growing in the northern hemisphere twisted and grew in a counterclockwise direction; and that vines growing in the southern hemisphere twisted and grew in a clockwise direction.

But folks living in the southern hemisphere believed that their vines grew counterclockwise; and vines growing in the northern hemisphere grew and spiraled in a clockwise direction.

 Growing Vine With a Counter Clockwise Twist

Morning Glory Growing With a Counter Clockwise Twist

Turns out folks in both hemispheres were wrong. It was an incorrect notion based in part on a misinterpretation of the Coriolis effect.

Plant scientist Angela Moles disproved the idea  of vine hemispheric twining orientation and put the argument to rest after she spent 2 years traveling the world and visiting 75 different ecosystems. She observed 13,000 plant species in such diverse locations as the Congo, China, Patagonia, South Africa; the temperate forests of America, Panama, Sweden, Zambia and Norway.
Ms. Moles expected that vines would follow the direction of the sun and was surprised by her own observations,
“I thought we were going to see mostly clockwise plants in the northern hemisphere, and mostly anticlockwise plants in the southern hemisphere. This is what you would expect if the tips of the vines were tracking the apparent movement of the sun across the sky while they were on the sunny side of the tree trunk they are climbing.”
Ms. Moles noticed that while most vines at each study location were twisting and growing counterclockwise, she found some that curled to the right in a clockwise direction.
“Sometimes all the clockwise ones were of a particular species, but some species have both left-handed and right-handed individuals.”
Plant scientists now theorize that the reason plants disregard the Coriolis effect may be a function of a left-handed bias of all biological molecules in nature.
Pretty interesting stuff.

Vine Growing Counter Clockwise

Morning Glory Counter Clock wise Twist

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  1 comment for “Do You Know Which Way Vines Grow?

  1. January 31, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    I have only one question. Rotational bias is a function of the observer’s position. I assume that the observer in this case is above the plant, thereby giving a counterclockwise growth pattern.

    But if the observer is below the plant, looking from the ground up, then the growth direction is clockwise. When I look at the example vine it looks to me like it is growing clockwise.

    Just a question as to who determined the observational viewpoint.

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