SPAC demonstration

Robinson, Dr. David drobinson at
Tue Dec 11 16:17:48 EST 2001

NEAT! Actually, if you just stacked the porous plate (simulating a leaf)
on top of the porous rod (simulating a stem) that this company sells,
assuming good contact between them, you might be able to create a
"circuit" of water. Then if you placed it in a water:dye solution, the
dye might be observed to travel up the rod, in time (especially, if you
wrapped the rod in saran wrap).

Kind of depends on how expensive these ceramic products are, though, as
I imagine the dye would probably never wash out!

Thanks for your detailed help!!

Dave Robinson, Bellarmine U.

-----Original Message-----
From: dh321 at [mailto:dh321 at]
Sent: Monday, December 10, 2001 9:52 PM
To: plant-ed at
Subject: Re: SPAC demonstration

The Soil Moisture Equipment Company - - sells a variety of porous
products for tensiometers and other uses.

I looked back through a bunch of old plant physiology lab manuals on use
atmometers. They all used mercury which may not be acceptable to some
However, without the mercury a major aspect of the demonstration is
With modern materials such as narrow-bore plastic tubing, perhaps it
be possible to create a much taller atmometer demonstration with water
instead of mercury.

Oels (1894) early atmometer used a thistle tube with a pig bladder or ox

bladder stretched over the opening instead of an porous clay cup. He
raise mercury 20 cm with a pig bladder and 30 cm with an ox bladder.

MacDougal (1895) reported that active coniferous shoots, in place of a
porous clay cup, could raise mercury 76 cm high.

Lemon (1958) noted that the atmometer is a "a classic experiment
...difficult to carry out" and noted the importance of recently boiled
distilled water, super clean glassware, and eliminating all air bubbles.
mentioned that this was Askenasy's experiment. The porous clay cups he
called Livingston atmometers. Lemon (1958) also has an exercise
demonstrating capillary rise with panes of glass and capillary tubes
0.05 to
3 mm in diameter.

Meyer et al. (1955) gave a detailed description of the atmometer setup
saying a 1 meter-plus length of 1 mm bore glass capillary tube should be

used with a porous porcelain cylinder. Their drawing of the porous
cylinder looked like a tensiometer tip. They suggested coating the
cylinder with a hot 20% gelatin sol "to permit attainment of
results with cups which otherwise could not be used."

Witham et al (1971) adapted the experiment of Meyer et al. (1955) but
Askenasy's 1896 papers in German. They also gave the source for the
clay cups as Mrs. Burton E. Livingston, Sherwood Ave., Riverwood,
MD. but I doubt that source is still valid.

The latest three manuals all cite Thut (1932) but I have not seen that


Lemon, C. Paul. 1958. Laboratory Exercises Plant Physiology. Dubuque,
Wm. C. Brown.

MacDougal, Daniel T. 1895. Practical Text-book of Plant Physiology. New
York: Longmans Green.

Meyer, Bernard S., Anderson, Donald B., and Swanson, Carroll A. 1955.
Laboratory Plant Physiology. Princeton, NJ: D. Van Nostrand.

Oels, Walter. 1894. Experimental Plant Physiology. Mineapolis: Morris

Thut, H.F. 1932. Demonstrating the lifting power of transpiration. Amer.
Botany 19:358-364.

Witham, Francis H., Blaydes, D.F. and Devlin R.M. 1971. Experiments in
Physiology. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.


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