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Uncover the mechanical secrets of the giant Amazon water lily

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Researchers studying giant Amazon water lilies grown in the Oxford University Botanical Garden have unraveled the engineering mystery behind the largest floating leaves in nature.


In the study published today Science AdvancesResearchers have discovered that the unique pattern underneath the giant leaves is the key to the success of the giant Amazon water lily (Victoria genus).

The cruciform framework constitutes the vascular structure of the lily pad (or leaf), Support its large surface area and keep it floating. Giant leaves grow 40 cm a day and reach nearly 3 meters in diameter. It is 10 times larger than other water lilies and supports the weight of small children.

Dr. Chris Thorogood, Deputy Director of the Oxford Botanic Garden, said, “When I was a kid, I was amazed at this extraordinary plant on a trip to the botanical garden. I remember wondering how it would grow. I am. ”

Researchers compared the leaves of a giant high-side Amazon water lily with thick veins to Ninfaea. It has a small relationship with the disc-shaped leaves and the vascular system is less noticeable. Using field experiments and mathematical modeling, the team discovered that giant Amazon water lily leaves have higher stiffness for a given amount of plants.

“Their strength allows giant Amazon water lily leaves to occupy a huge surface to capture light, even though they have lower biomass than other water lilies. That is their success. That’s the secret, “says Dr. Thorogood.

Dr. Finn Box, a researcher at the Royal Society of the University of Manchester’s Faculty of Physics and Astronomy, explains: It is competitive due to the structure and load-bearing characteristics of the huge Amazon water lily. Low cost and high strength. “

Moving away from the greenhouse pond and back to its natural habitat (a quick-drying temporary pool in the Amazon basin), the giant Amazon water lilies have evolved in favor of space and competition between light-seeking plants. ..

Its giant leaves deploy quickly and cheaply, competing for water surface location and creating a mosaic of water lilies that block light to the underlying plants.

The leaf flexible framework can withstand elastic deformation to avoid damage by charadrii. Small holes on the surface drain trapped rainwater. The spikes in the leaf substructure push out other plants out of the way as the leaves unfold, preventing them from biting the fish.

“Leaves are really versatile,” said Dr. Thorogood. ” plant Well adapted to their habitat challenges. “

Despite the fascinating artists, architects, and Green Planet audience, little is known about the secrets behind the size and strength of the floating giants.

“The amazing structure of nature helps unleash design challenges in engineering. These water lily shapes can stimulate huge floating platforms such as solar panels in the ocean. Learn from the leaves. There are many, “concludes Dr. Thorogood.


How floating ferns can withstand the rain


For more information:
Finn Box et al, giant floating leaves occupy a large surface area with economical material costs. Science Advances (2022). DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abg3790

Provided by
Oxford University

Quote: Https: //phys.org/news/2022-02-mechanical-secrets-giant-amazonian-waterlilies.html Giant Amazon water lily obtained on February 9, 2022 (February 9, 2022) Uncover the mechanical secrets of

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Uncover the mechanical secrets of the giant Amazon water lily

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