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Secrets of Creation: How Plants Protect Themselves

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Foreword
The fire, the wind, the frost, and the caterpillars are all terrible enemies of the forest, but there are other enemies who are not less dangerous. Most trees are not afraid of them!

We know that the animals defend themselves by kicking, butting, biting, scratching, or even running away! But plants are a different matter; they can not bite or run away. An enemy can come right up to a tree and it won't even budge.

The Ceiba TreeThat is all true, but strange as it may seem, plants have ways of protecting themselves, and they can put up quite a good defence.

If we bear in mind that plants do not posses any way to think, to decide and to act, then we should think that God the Almighty, who gave the plants their ability to defend themselves.

Struggle with the wind
On sandy slopes you may see pines that look as though they have come out of a fairy-tale. The powerful trees seem to be lifting high their snag-like legs all ready to run or dance to the whistling of the wind.

In reality the pines have no wish to dance at all. The restless wind blows the sand from under their roots, while the trees dig deeper and deeper into the ground in their urge to survive. The tops of the roots are bared, that is why they give the impression of being on stilts. They can stand that way for many years defying the wind.

The Ceiba TreeEverybody is familiar with the maize, and most people are interested in the crops and not in the roots, though these are curious things well worth inspecting.

Maize has a tall and thick stalk, broad long leaves and heavy cobs, and appears top - heavy. But it does not fall even in a severe wind because it has additional roots that come out on the surface. Like props, they support the stalk in windy weather.The Ceiba Tree

The banian- tree that grows in India is a gigantic relation of our indoor ficus. Tourists take one tree for a whole grove because it has so many trunks – up to a thousand sometimes. These trunks are quite unusual.

The banian tree has heavy branches that need support, which is why it has aerial roots growing on its branches. Little by little, they grow long and reach the ground. As the years go by, these supporting roots thicken and then it becomes difficult to distinguish them from the main trunk that gets lost in their midst.

That is how one tree produces a whole grove. So now even a hurricane will do no harm to the heavy crown of the banian-tree.

The Ceiba TreeIn the humid tropical jungles of Africa, America and Asia there are some remarkable slender trees. Their trunks rise to the sky like light columns and there is a wide-spread crown on top.

The trees look like umbrellas with very long handles. If the trunks were shorter and the crowns lower, it would be easier for them to stand up to the wind.

To all appearances the only way for them to save themselves is to grow deeper roots.The Ceiba Tree

These umbrella-like trees are adapted to their surroundings. They have huge supports that run in all directions from the lower part of the trunk.

They look very much like broad planks with the edge pressed against the trunk and the opposite edge pressed firmly into the ground. For that they are called buttress-like roots. They rise to about six meters up the trunk and stretch several meters away from its base.


References:
Picture 1: The Ceiba Tree/tikalpark.com/trees.
Picture 2-3: cag.ics.mit.edu
Picture 4-5 Ceiba Roots: elenas-vieques.com/ceiba

Ali A. Naser -
Ali A. Naser [‘Aly Naa’sir] has a master's degree in electronics engineering from The Technical University - Varna, Bulgaria.Read More >>

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Last Updated on Monday, 25 December 2006 22:02  

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