Sunday, July 13, 2008

Chlorophyll = Blood

Switching from writing to reading today, and / or organizing my research notes, I picked up a book I'd like to read (of about a dozen) and at random opened it up. The book is Tree, A Life Story by David Suzuki and Wayne Grady (it follows the 500 year life of one douglas fir); the page is 69 (ewww).

The topic is Donald Culross Peattie, discussing a part from his book Flowering Earth, in which Mr. DCP recalls how, as a student of botany at Harvard, he extracted chlorophyll and noticed its resemblance to human / animal blood.

"Using spectrum analysis, Peattie learned that the constituents of a chlorophyll molecule were eerily familiar. 'To me, a botanist's apprentice, a future naturalist,' he writes, 'there was just one fact to quicken the pulse. That fact is the close similarity between cholorphyll and hemoglobin, the essence of our blood.' This is no fanciful comparison, but a literal, scientific analogy: 'The one significant difference in the two structural formulas is this: that the hub of every hemoglobin molecule is one atom of iron, while in chlorophyll it is one atom of magnesium.' Just as chlorophyll is green because magnesium absorbs all but the green light spectrum, blood is red because iron absorbs all but the red. Chlorophyll is green blood. It is designed to capture light; blood is designed to capture oxygen."

I appreciate being blown out of the water. You bet your bottom dollar it's going in my book.

10 comments:

WiseAcre said...

Chlorophyll is green blood.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Time for a blood transfusion. It gives going 'Green' a whole new meaning. I can cope turning green if it means I could run on sunlight.

ourfriendben said...

Fascinating, Benjamin! I can feel a poem coming on...

Benjamin Vogt said...

WA--I'd love to run on sunlight. Wow. No more having to figure out what's for dinner and settling for spaghetti.
Ellen--It's AWESOME!!

kate smudges said...

No wonder Ellen felt moved to write and share a poem about this. Amazing comparison ... I'm glad you read this and shared it.

Mary said...

Lately I've been re-reading some of Donald Culross Peattie's books. The Flowering Earth changed my view of the world many, many years ago. It's great to find that people are still reading his works and still (newly?) appreciating his viewpoint. The chlorophyll/blood analogy is neat. Thanks for posting on it.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Holy crap. I already feel bad enough about eating meat... now I have to worry about plants being able to bleed for my meals, too?

*sigh*

Benjamin Vogt said...

Mary--Thank for stopping by! I have to confess, I've not read his work per se, just this quoted material from another book, but I'm gonna go buy the book you mentioned right away. I love amazon used book store sellers!
Kim--Well, you wouldn't do well at my 1st annual "my god, the school year is already here again" party next month: we rip liatris heads off with our teeth, peel corn with delightful girlish laughter, and suck the marrow out of sedum leaves--all because as teachers / grad students, my associates and I go INSANE with grading papers, writing papers, and such.

Elisabeth said...

I remember learning this over thirty years ago form a Native American botanist, who was explaining why we were using a chlorophyll rooting formula, and he went on to tell me how chlorophyll was used for transfusions when they ran out of blood during WW2. Certainly rocked my world to learn all that!

Benjamin Vogt said...

Elisabeth--Oh, what a fact! I will have to research this, I had no idea! This might find it's way into the book, too... thank you!

giselle said...

I've always wondered about this since plant cells are so similar to animal cells. Thanks for the great info. Edenizer.org