Yes. Because trees need the sunlight to grow, they will lean to try to find sunlight, or grow in its direction. A tree growing in open land will grow straight up because it doesn’t have to compete with anything for the sunlight. If there are other plants or buildings in it’s way, it will try to lean or grow around it to access that light as easily as possible.
The answer from a technical point of view is no. If you grow a plant in a room with a light to the side, the plants will grow toward the light. If a light is bright enough and the sun is shining through the window, the plant could grow toward neither the sun or the light. In a general way of thinking though, many plants grow toward the sun or light if outdoors. But the emphasis is on light. If a plant is overshadowed by trees, even though the sun is overhead, the plant may grow more sideways toward light.
There are hormones in plants, or chemicals, that can cause cells on the darker side of the stem to elongate. The plant or tree is basically steered chemically and by growth in this fashion to extend or reach light.
This is awesome! Do you know of any scientific studies that have been done on this topic?
None online that I know of, but bet there’s 70% chance that the info is online if searched for. The word “auxin” and term “cell elongation” would be good to work-into Google searches. I first learned of it in Horticulture college classes in the 1980s. It was in my textbook. and the knowledge has been around. If it’s not auxins that cause the elongation, then its something else, whether chemical or hormone. But auxin was what I recall, and its still pretty much accepted, although some scientist may think that a bit more is involved with it additionally. In college, my class experiment was sort of related. I grew a plant from the bottom of a cup, turning the plant with top to the ground, under a dark box, but with a light on the downside. The experiment was related to cell elongation, light and gravity. Don’t recall exact details, but I was curious which factores – hormones, gravity or light were more dominant. Cheers, MDV
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