Experiment Demonstrating Plants Produce Breathable Air

When air has been freshly and strongly tainted with putrefaction, so as to smell through the water, sprigs of mint have presently died, upon being put into it, their leaves turning black; but if they do not die presently, they thrive in a most surprizing manner. In no other circumstances have I ever seen vegetation so vigorous as in this kind of air, which is immediately fatal to animal life. Though these plants have been crouded in jars filled with this air, every leaf has been full of life; fresh shoots have branched out in various , and have grown much faster than other similiar plants, growing in the same exposure in common air.

This observation led me to conclude that plants, instead of affecting the air in the same manner with animal respiration, reverse the effects of breathing, and tend to keep the atmosphere sweet and wholesome, when it is become noxious, in consequence on animals living and breathing, or dying and putrefying in it.

In order to ascertain this, I took a quantity of air, made thoroughly noxious, by mice breathing and dying in it, and divided it into two parts; one of which I put into a phial immersed in water; and to the other (which was contained in a glass jar, standing in water) I put a sprig of mint. This was about the beginning of August 1771, and after eight or nine days, I found that a mouse lived perfectly well in that part of the air, in which the sprig of mint had grown, but died the moment it was put into the other part of the same original quantity of air; and which I had kept in the very same exposure, but without any plant growing in it.


Using a mouse and a sprig of mint.

Folksonomies: experimentation

/business and industrial/energy/oil (0.475119)
/food and drink/beverages/non alcoholic beverages/coffee and tea (0.222847)
/food and drink (0.219887)

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Life (0.977832): dbpedia | freebase
Animal (0.700608): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Photosynthesis (0.644932): dbpedia | freebase
Decomposition (0.613365): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Plant (0.603012): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Debut albums (0.530267): dbpedia
Water (0.518588): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Oxygen (0.502723): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc

 Observations on Different Kinds of Air
Periodicals>Journal Article:  Priestley, Joseph (1772), Observations on Different Kinds of Air, Philosophical Transactions, (1772), 62, 193-4., Retrieved on 2012-06-21