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A Groundbreaking New Discovery with Redwood Trees

by Caleb Rogart

Redwood trees are subjectively the most fascinating plants in the world. They are not only the largest in size and width, but also are one of the longest living life forms on Earth, some of which living up to several thousands of years old. As such, redwoods have been one of the most studied life forms to date. This has led to countless discoveries, like that they create more oxygen than any other plant, are resistant to rot, fire, insects, and fungi, as well as countless other remarkable attributes. A new discovery from UC Davis has recently proved that redwoods have two different types of leaves on the same tree. One of these leaves does not perform photosynthesis, but is instead entirely used for absorbing and storing water.

Normally, the purpose of leaves is to solely undergo photosynthesis. When it was discovered that redwoods have leaves whose speciality is to absorb water, it raised many questions. The study found that the two leaves are the peripheral leaf, also known as the photosynthetic leaf, and the axial leaf, the absorbent leaf. The axial leaves help the redwoods to absorb 48 kilograms, or about 106 pounds, of water in a single hour.

Additionally, there are about one to two billion leaves in redwoods. Most are peripheral with axial leaves counting as only about 5.5% of leaves. However, with the sugar and other materials that are created during photosynthesis in peripheral leaves, the abundance of water provided by axial leaves helps to transport the materials throughout the tree. This not only gives materials to the roots and the cambium, a layer that grows the bark of the tree, but also the axial leaves. These axial leaves do not perform photosynthesis, and need resources from photosynthetic peripheral leaves to keep their water job running smoothly.

This discovery helps to demonstrate what amazing and unique life forms that redwoods are.


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