Ethylene is a group of plant growth regulators which are widely used for ripening fruits and for the production of more flowers and fruits.

Ethylene is a small hydrocarbon, the colourless flammable gas which is denoted by a formula C2H4 or H2C=CH2. It has a “sweet and musky” odour when it is pure. It is the simplest alkene and also the second simplest unsaturated hydrocarbon C2H2.


Ethylene is abundantly used in the chemical industry, and the polyethene is extremely produced using ethylene. Further, ethylene is also used in Agricultural Practices to ripen fruits, germination of seed, etc.

Structure and Properties of Ethylene

Ethylene is a hydrocarbon. As the name suggests it has four atoms of hydrogen bonds that are paired with carbon atoms with a double bond. All these six atoms H-C-H form an angle of 117.4°, close to the 120° to form a hybridized carbon sp². Further, the bond is rigid about the C-C bond with high energy process by breaking the π-bond.

Ethylene Formula

The ethylene has the formula:




Ethylene as a Plant Hormone

The ethylene in a plant hormone that acts as a trace level of entire plant life by regulating and stimulating the opening of flowers, fruit ripening and shedding of leaves. During the ancient days, Egyptians used this technique with gash figs to stimulate ripening. While the Chinese burn incense in a closed room to fasten the ripening of pears. This plant hormone is essentially produced in all parts of grown plants including roots, stems, tubers, leaves, flower, fruits and seeds.


Ethylene is the most widely used plant growth regulator as they play a vital role in:

  • Stimulating fruit ripening.
  • Helps in determining the sex of a flower.
  • It is involved in the production of female flowers in a male plant.
  • Promotes Apo-geotropism in roots.
  • Helps in the root initiation and pollination.
  • Ethylene increases the speed of leaf and flower senescence.     
  • Induces seed germination.
  • Induces root growth to increase the capability of water and mineral absorption.
  • Stimulates epinasty.
  • Induces a climacteric rise in respiration in some fruits.
  • Effects gravitropism.
  • Stimulates nutational bending.
  • Inhibits stem growth.
  • Interference with auxin transport.
  • Induces flowering in pineapples.

Learn more in detail about Ethylene and other plant growth regulators @ BYJU’S Biology

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