Resilient Redwoods

Stay thirsty, my LEAFY friends!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science It’s been so hot, last night I almost slept in my bathtub. But we gotta conserve water. It’s fire season after all. And our majestic redwoods aren’t gonna protect themselves… are they?

Alana Chin and her colleagues at UC Davis say, actually, they kinda do! They sampled DIFFERENT KINDS of leaves from Redwood trees across California. These included peripheral leaves – for photosynthesis… and axial leaves – a recent discovery, they mainly take in water. Back in the lab, they immersed the leaves in lab fog. Then, they weighed the leaves to see how much water they absorbed. 

Results? The Axial leaves drank over THREE times as much water as other leaves! They have a different structure entirely! Trees in arid climates use these leaves in canopies to capture water from the air!

This specialization could be the Redwoods’ key to surviving a drying climate!

I don’t always drink from leaves, but when I do, I prefer Dos Axials.

Reference: Chin, A. R., Guzmán‐Delgado, P., Sillett, S. C., Orozco, J., Kramer, R. D., Kerhoulas, L. P., … & Zwieniecki, M. A. (2022). Shoot dimorphism enables Sequoia sempervirens to separate requirements for foliar water uptake and photosynthesis. American Journal of Botany, 109(4), 564-579.