Glow-in-the-dark plants may soon replace your bedside lamp

Your favourite flora may have the supernatural ability to lighten your home, according to a revolutionary new study.

Imagine reading the latest by Liane Moriarty before nodding off to sleep – no need for a bedside lamp, just a glorious fiddle leaf fig to light your pages.

Well, engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working to make this dream a reality, and they’ve succeeded in a new study set to change the way we illuminate our lives after dark.

The future is green. Picture: Seon-Yeong Kwak

By embedding particles of the enzyme luciferase (which typically makes fireflies glow) into plant leaves, the researchers were able to light up herbs like watercress for almost four hours. So far, they have tested the study on arugula, kale, and spinach, in addition to watercress.

“The vision is to make a plant that will function as a desk lamp — a lamp that you don’t have to plug in,” MIT professor, Michael Strano, said in a statement.

“Our work very seriously opens up the doorway to street lamps that are nothing but treated trees, and to indirect lighting around homes.”

We can see it now! Entertaining on the deck, a soft illumination of lily pillies lighting the wine glasses on the table, walking home on a spring evening along a tree-lined street of glowing cherry blossoms…

A glowing mother-in-law’s tongue beside the bed would make for a perfect natural lamp. Picture: Erinna Giblin

Though the research is still in the early stages, Strano and his team say there is no limit in terms of where they can take this new technology.

“Plants can self-repair, they have their own energy, and they are already adapted to the outdoor environment. We think this is an idea whose time has come.”

And we think it’s genius, too. Not to mention the perfect solution to our energy bills.

The study was published in the journal Nano Letters

Originally published as Glow-in-the-dark plants may soon replace your bedside lamp by Katie Skelly. Author at