Running home the other night, up the long hill to our house, I wondered: Why do plants not glow (or glow more often) in nature? We can engineer them to glow, granted. But I’ve found no example of a naturally-occurring plant that glows.
Why my surprise? Because I should think that plants might reproduce more efficiently if they could attract night pollinators with glowing flowers. I would thus have expected glowing plants to evolve, and to occur naturally with unsurprising frequency. Perhaps I underestimate the energy required to phosphoresce; perhaps plants rely on pollinators' sense of small rather than of sight for good reason. But wouldn't the same calculations counsel against glowing in animals?
At any rate, I look forward to seeing more of bioengineered phosphorescent plants. Some people in my neighborhood like to light up their landscaping at night. I cannot deny the aesthetic impact of a nice lighting job, yet I rue the waste. Surely it would prove more economical to let your landscaping provide its own light. And wouldn’t you enjoy walking up to your front door under a canopy of twinkling flowers? Or the pillars of illuminating palms? Coo-ell.