Examples of Tropism in Plants

Tropism in plants, a captivating phenomenon that allows them to respond and adapt to their environment. Let’s explore the fascinating world of plant tropism and how it influences their growth and survival.

Tropism refers to the directional growth or movement of a plant in response to external stimuli, such as light, gravity, touch, or chemicals. These stimuli serve as signals that guide the plant’s growth and determine its orientation. Tropisms enable plants to optimize their exposure to essential resources, such as light and water, and to avoid obstacles or unfavorable conditions.

One of the most well-known tropisms in plants is phototropism, which is the growth or movement of a plant in response to light. Phototropism allows plants to maximize their exposure to light for photosynthesis, the process by which they convert light energy into chemical energy. The growth of plant shoots towards light is called positive phototropism, while the growth of roots away from light is called negative phototropism.

Another important tropism is gravitropism, also known as geotropism or gravitropism, which is the response of plant organs to gravity. The roots of plants exhibit positive gravitropism, growing towards the center of the Earth, while the shoots exhibit negative gravitropism, growing away from the center of the Earth. Gravitropism helps plants establish a proper orientation and ensures that roots grow downward, where they can access water and nutrients, while shoots grow upward towards light.

Plants also exhibit thigmotropism, which is the response to touch or mechanical stimuli. This tropism allows plants to respond to physical contact, such as the touch of a neighboring plant, a surface, or a support structure. Thigmotropism can be observed in climbing plants that wrap their tendrils around a support, or in the movement of sensitive plants like the Mimosa pudica, which folds its leaves in response to touch.

Chemotropism is another type of tropism in plants, where they respond to chemical signals in their environment. This can be seen in the growth of plant roots towards specific chemicals in the soil, such as nutrients or water. It also plays a role in the attraction of plant pollinators, as flowers release chemicals that attract insects or other animals for pollination.

Tropisms are crucial for the survival and growth of plants, as they allow them to adapt to changing environmental conditions and optimize their resource uptake. By responding to light, gravity, touch, and chemicals, plants can position themselves in a way that maximizes their chances of survival and reproductive success.

Understanding plant tropisms is not only fascinating but also has practical applications. For example, in agriculture, knowledge of phototropism can be used to optimize the placement and orientation of crops to enhance their exposure to sunlight. Gravitropism can be manipulated to control the growth of plants, such as training vines or influencing the direction of root growth.

In conclusion, tropism in plants is a remarkable phenomenon that enables them to respond and adapt to their environment. Phototropism, gravitropism, thigmotropism, and chemotropism are just a few examples of how plants can sense and respond to external stimuli. These tropisms play a crucial role in the growth, orientation, and survival of plants. Let’s appreciate the wonders of plant tropism and the incredible adaptations that allow plants to thrive in diverse habitats.

Tropism is a biological phenomenon in which plants respond to external stimuli by growing or moving in a particular direction. These responses are essential for plants to adapt to their environment, maximize their chances of survival, and optimize their growth. In this article, we will explore examples of tropism in plants and discuss the different types of tropisms that occur.

Example 1: Phototropism

Phototropism is the growth or movement of plants in response to light. It allows plants to position their leaves, stems, or flowers in a way that maximizes their exposure to sunlight. One classic example of phototropism is the bending of a sunflower’s stem towards the direction of the sun. The plant detects the light source and directs its growth towards it, ensuring that the leaves receive optimal light for photosynthesis.

Example 2: Gravitropism

Gravitropism, also known as geotropism, is the growth or movement of plants in response to gravity. It allows plants to orient themselves in relation to the force of gravity, which is crucial for their growth and development. One example of gravitropism is the downward growth of roots. The roots grow towards the gravitational pull, ensuring that they penetrate the soil and anchor the plant securely. On the other hand, the upward growth of stems and leaves is an example of negative gravitropism, as they grow against the force of gravity.

Example 3: Thigmotropism

Thigmotropism is the growth or movement of plants in response to touch or physical contact. It allows plants to respond to mechanical stimuli and adapt to their surroundings. One example of thigmotropism is the coiling of tendrils in climbing plants such as peas and grapes. When the tendrils come into contact with a support structure, they wrap around it, providing the plant with stability and allowing it to climb and reach for sunlight.

Example 4: Hydrotropism

Hydrotropism is the growth or movement of plants in response to water. It allows plants to seek out sources of water and ensure their survival in environments with varying water availability. One example of hydrotropism is the growth of plant roots towards areas with higher moisture levels. The roots sense the presence of water and grow in that direction, ensuring that the plant can access the necessary water and nutrients for its growth and development.

Example 5: Thigmomorphogenesis

Thigmomorphogenesis is a type of tropism that involves changes in plant growth and development in response to mechanical stimuli. Unlike thigmotropism, which refers to directional growth, thigmomorphogenesis refers to changes in plant morphology. One example of thigmomorphogenesis is the strengthening and thickening of plant stems in response to wind or physical stress. This adaptation helps plants withstand mechanical forces and prevents them from being easily damaged or uprooted.


Tropism is a fascinating phenomenon that allows plants to respond and adapt to their environment. The examples of phototropism, gravitropism, thigmotropism, hydrotropism, and thigmomorphogenesis demonstrate the diverse ways in which plants can sense and respond to external stimuli. By understanding tropisms, scientists gain insights into the remarkable adaptations of plants and the mechanisms they employ to survive and thrive in their respective habitats.

FAQs: Tropism in Plants

1. What is tropism in plants?

Tropism in plants refers to the growth or movement of a plant in response to external stimuli such as light, gravity, or touch. It is a vital mechanism that allows plants to adapt and optimize their growth and development in relation to their environment.

2. What are the different types of tropism in plants?

There are several types of tropism in plants:

  • Phototropism: The growth or movement of a plant in response to light. It allows plants to orient their leaves, stems, or flowers towards a light source.
  • Gravitropism (Geotropism): The growth or movement of a plant in response to gravity. It influences the upward growth of shoots and the downward growth of roots.
  • Thigmotropism: The growth or movement of a plant in response to touch or physical contact. It enables climbing plants to coil around supporting structures.
  • Hydrotropism: The growth or movement of a plant in response to water or moisture. It helps roots grow towards sources of water.
  • Chemotropism: The growth or movement of a plant in response to chemicals or chemical gradients. It plays a role in guiding pollen tubes towards the ovules during pollination.

3. How do plants exhibit phototropism?

Plants exhibit phototropism through the differential growth of cells on opposite sides of the stem or shoot. When light is detected by specialized cells called photoreceptors, it triggers a hormone called auxin to redistribute unevenly. This unequal distribution of auxin causes cells on the shaded side of the stem to elongate more rapidly, bending the plant towards the light source.

4. What causes gravitropism in plants?

Gravitropism in plants is caused by the redistribution of auxin in response to the gravitational force. In roots, gravity causes auxin to accumulate on the lower side, inhibiting cell elongation and promoting root growth in a downward direction. In shoots, auxin accumulates on the lower side, stimulating cell elongation and causing the stem to grow upwards.

5. How do plants respond to touch through thigmotropism?

Plants respond to touch through thigmotropism by changing their growth pattern. When a plant’s stem or tendrils come into contact with a surface, specialized cells called mechanoreceptors detect the physical contact and trigger a hormonal response. This response leads to differential growth, causing the plant to curve or coil around the supporting structure.

6. What is the role of hydrotropism in plant growth?

Hydrotropism plays a crucial role in plant growth by guiding the growth of roots towards sources of water. When a plant’s roots encounter a moisture gradient, they respond to higher water concentrations by elongating more rapidly in that direction. This allows the roots to explore and absorb water efficiently, supporting the plant’s hydration and nutrient uptake.

7. Can multiple tropic responses occur simultaneously in plants?

Yes, multiple tropic responses can occur simultaneously in plants. Depending on the environmental conditions and the plant’s genetic makeup, plants can exhibit multiple tropic responses concurrently. For example, a plant may exhibit phototropism towards light while also displaying gravitropism by growing its roots downward.

8. Can tropism be influenced or manipulated by humans?

Yes, tropism in plants can be influenced or manipulated by humans. Through techniques such as pruning, training, and the use of artificial light sources, humans can shape the growth and direction of plants. In agriculture and horticulture, these manipulations are commonly employed to control the form, yield, and overall development of plants.

9. Do all plants exhibit tropic responses?

While many plants exhibit tropic responses, not all plants show the same degree or type of tropism. The extent of tropic responses can vary depending on the species, environmental conditions, and the specific stimuli to which the plant is exposed. Some plants may exhibit strong tropic responses, while others may have reduced or specialized tropic capabilities.

10. Are tropic responses reversible in plants?

Yes, tropic responses in plants are often reversible. When the external stimulus is removed or altered, plants have the ability to adjust their growth patterns accordingly. For example, if a plant exhibiting phototropism is repositioned to receive light from a different direction, it willadjust its growth to orient towards the new light source. Similarly, if a plant displaying gravitropism is reoriented, its growth pattern will adapt to the new gravitational direction. However, the extent and speed of reversibility may vary depending on the specific tropism and the stage of plant development.

Related PostsWhat is Geotropism and the factors that cause it