How Do Trees Stay Hydrated

by / Tuesday, 23 October 2018 / Published in Blog

When it comes to trees and water, most people know that roots are somehow involved in drawing the water and nutrients from the earth, but that is most likely where the knowledge ends. However, if you go to seek for further information from Tree Care service in Palo Alto, you’ll soon find that tree biology is rather fascinating.

Basic Anatomy

You think of trees, you think of wood, but do you also know that wood is actually a tissue? It’s called Xylem and consists of both living and dead tissue. It can be seen as a form of pipeline that allows water to travel from the roots, and through the trunk, all the way up the tree. It’s made of vessel elements which are part of the Xylem and largely made up of dead cell walls. These vessels are also connected with the small pores found on leaves which are referred to as stomata.

The system doesn’t end there. Right below the bark is another tissue layer – the Phloem. It’s responsible for taking the sugars out of the leaves and into the tissues with a dire need for it. But unlike Xylem which can also take water from bottom to top, the Phloem can directs its flow each way.

Filtering and Plumbing

You may have already expected something like this. After all, it’s similar to the way water moves around your own home. However, trees obviously differ from houses. For one, they are living organisms, and for them to move pull water from the ground, they require energy.Oftentimes, water will be far down and for the tree to reach it and suck it into its system, it would need to drain its energy reserves extremely quickly. To navigate around this issue, trees rely on two major natural phenomena, namely Osmosis and Capillary Action.

Osmosis describes the water’s tendency to flow from area with low solute concentration to areas with high solute concentration. Solute concentrations refers to the amount of particles dissolved in the water. And the way in which a tree makes use of this, is by keeping liquid with high solute concentration in their absorbing roots. This attracts the low solute concentrated water near the roots to move past the roots hair’s cell membrane and finally, into the Xylem.Capillary Action describes the water’s tendency to flow into narrow tubes, or in this case, the water molecules tendency to be more attracted to the walls of the vessels than to each other. Because of this, the water will start to move up inside the Xylem, though not very far.

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