Golden Plants

Jeremy Harbinson "Jeremy Harbinson" at
Wed Apr 24 11:24:27 EST 2002

There are many possible explanations for this feature. Virus infections can
cause chlorosis, and some ornamental variegated forms of plants owe their colour
to a virus. Nutrient deficiencies are also a cause, iron and manganese
deficiency will cause chlorosis in plants like Rhododendron that require an acid
soil but which have been planted on a soil whose pH is too high; other nutrient
deficiencies can also provoke chlorosis though I doubt that you would see these
deficencies on a normal garden soil. Other physiological stresses such as high
light in combination with low temperatures can cause loss of chlorophyll, and
thus chlorosis. Most commonly, though, the golden colour you refer to is the
result of a mutation that causes a low chlorophyll concentration in the leaf;
sometimes this requires bright light to fully manifest itself, and sometimes it
is has clear developmental path (eg young leaves green, older leaves yellow).
The causes of this chlorosis are not often understood in terms of the what the
missing gene product does, though is some cases this is known. For example in
some cases the golden colour is associated with severely reduced amounts of
chlorophyll b.
all the best,
Jeremy Harbinson

Zillah wrote:

> Does anyone know what makes plants go gold?  I have a Fatsia which was green
> when small, but is now very golden-green -  and makes a very bright accent
> in the garden.  I know there are many other golden cultivars of other plants
> such as Pelargoniums (e.g. Mrs. Quilter) and the Choisya called I think
> Sundance.  Just wondered how they come about initially.
> Thanks for reading this -

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