The plant that can water itself

By | May 15, 2009

Desert rhubarb (Rheum palaestinum)Close up of desert rhubarb leafIn the deserts of Israel, there is a plant that waters itself.

The plant, a type of rhubarb, has specially designed leaves that channel rain water to its roots.

It is the only known plant in the world able to self-irrigate.

The adaptation allows the rhubarb to flourish in extreme arid conditions by collecting up to 16 times more water than other plants in the region, say the scientists who published details of the discovery in Naturwissenschaften.

Their study of desert rhubarb (Rheum palaestinum) growing in the Negev Desert showed that each plant typically harvests 4.2 litres of water each year, while the largest plant found harvested 43.8 litres.

Deep depressions in the rhubarb’s leaves channel water along the leaves’ veins, which are orientated towards it base. The leaves are also coated in a waxy cuticle, which repels water helping it flow over the leaves. …

“On average, the plant’s leaves allow it to collect 16 times more water than other desert plants in the region,” says Professor Lev-Yadun.

via BBC – Earth News.

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