Together, these functionally distinct leaves allow the world’s tallest trees to thrive in both wet and dry areas.
There are many amazing trees in the United States, including the famous sequoia tree. Sequoias are among the most studied trees in the world. However, they continued to surprise scientists. In a new study, researchers found that the popular sequoia has two types of leaves. And they also have a completely different function.
More about Sequoias
Sequoias are among the largest, tallest and oldest trees in the world. Furthermore, they are very robust trees equipped with fire-resistant bark and pest-resistant leaves. As a result, they are known for their resilience in the face of many of the natural threats they face†
In the study, researchers collected leaves from several redwood trees from five forest regions of both wet and dry climates. Then they subjected the papers to a comprehensive examination. It leads to an interesting discovery. Because sequoias turned out to have two types of leaves: one for making food and one for absorbing water.
As mentioned, one leaf is particularly busy making food for the tree; Converting sunlight into sugar through photosynthesis. The other paper hardly helps with that. Instead, his specialty is water absorption. And he’s good at it. It turns out that in the first hour when the leaves are wet, a large sequoia can absorb about 53 liters of water.
It’s a smart section. In humid forests, photosynthesis can be hindered by small layers that cover leaf stomata when wet. But thanks to the different leaves on the sequoia, the tree can still photosynthesise if it gets wet. The leaves in question have a certain coating that slows down the water absorption, so that photosynthesis also continues during the rainy season.
In addition, the two different leaves are also located in different places on the tree. In the humid, rainy northern coast, the water-absorbing foliage is found on the lower branches of redwoods. The upper leaves that capture the most sunlight are the leaves that carry out photosynthesis. In the arid south, it’s the other way around: the water-gathering leaves are right there at the top of the tree so they can take advantage of as little rain and fog pieces as possible.
This means that the two functionally different leaves together allow the tallest trees in the world to thrive in both wet and dry areas. However, the discovery was unexpected. “Leaves that do not photosynthesize are surprising in themselves,” said study researcher Alana Chin. “If you’re a tree, you don’t really want to have a single leaf that doesn’t photosynthesise unless there’s a very good reason for it.”
And the Sequoia certainly has this good reason. The results show how difficult the tree is in particular. “It shows that these trees can thrive in all conditions and adapt to different environments,” Chen concludes. Moreover, the discovery shows that even this well-studied tree still has surprises in store for us.
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