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Quantifying the attachment strength of climbing plants: A new approach

Journal Article

Steinbrecher T; Danninger E; Harder D; Speck T; Kraft O; Schwaiger R

2010

Acta Biomaterialia

6

1497-1504

In order to grow vertically it is essential for climbing plants to firmly attach to their supporting structures. In climbing plants different strategies for permanent attachment can be distinguished. Besides twining stems and tendrils many plants use attachment pads or attachment roots for this purpose. Using a novel custom-built tensile testing setup the mechanical properties of different permanent attachment structures of self-clinging plant species were investigated namely the attachment pads of Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) the attachment roots of ivy (Hedera helix) and the clustered attachment roots of trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans). Force–displacement measurements of individual attachment pads as well as of complete structures consisting of several pads or roots were conducted for both natural and laboratory growth conditions. The shapes of the curves and the maximum forces determined indicate clear differences in the detachment process for the different plants and structures tested. Based on these findings it is argued that the attachment structures are displacement-optimized rather than force-optimized.

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Support

The Liana Ecology Project is supported by Marquette University and funded in part by the National Science Foundation.