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Plants that collect water on the top

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#1 ttyo888



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Posted 30 May 2009 - 09:36 AM

After watching Extraterrestrials, I was wondering whether can a plant take in water from the top like collect it in a basin like this strange plant?

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Distinguishing Features: Abundant carbon dioxide means the pagoda trees grow to more than half a mile tall. Cuplike crowns above the canopy collect rainwater to keep the uppermost limbs hydrated.
Closest Earth Cousin: Giant sequoias, but their growth is limited by the ability of the tree's vascular system to deliver water hundreds of feet up.
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#2 Mokele


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Posted 30 May 2009 - 04:12 PM

Not for the same purpose, but:

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The purple pitcher plant collects rain in order to drown insects and digest them.

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Nepenthes ampullaria has a similar setup, but is suspected of being herbivorous, capturing falling leaves, soaking them in water, and digesting them for their minerals and nutrients.

There may well be others, but these are the two that I know of. Neither use the water to keep hydrated, as both live in very damp, boggy habitats.
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#3 YT2095


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Posted 30 May 2009 - 04:48 PM

I rem watching a documentary about Pitchers, specifically the ones that live on the top of Rock Only mountains without ground based nutrients in Hawaii where it rains for hours daily washing away all forms of soil and potential foods.
there are also "Air plants" that have no roots per se and get moisture from the air (you don`t have to water them).
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#4 granpa



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Posted 30 May 2009 - 11:19 PM

half a mile tall! thats rather tall dont you think?
closest cousin the sequoia? its not even a conifer.!

I'd like to see a link to something about this otherwise I'm just going to assume this is a joke.

I've heard of plants that colonize the tops of other trees that collect water like that though.
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#5 Phi for All

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Posted 30 May 2009 - 11:37 PM

While plants would be capable of such an adaptation, I would imagine that the problem with this particular sci-fi plant is that anything that *required* such a large, broad basin for collecting water would be in a very arid region where such a need was critical. The sun beating down on a large surface like that would dry it out fairly quickly, obviating the benefits.

Perhaps if the basin were capable of retracting itself during heavy sunshine and waiting until rain begins to fall before opening its water-catching apparatus, it would make more sense. The picture shows only one kind of plant so there doesn't seem to be any competition for water at that height. Is it assumed that the pagoda tree has a root system for the lower portions?
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#6 ttyo888



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Posted 31 May 2009 - 12:30 PM

Basically the Pagoda tree lives on a Planet with a denser atmosphere and more CO2.

But I am talking about Earth conditions. If a plant on Earth is holding water on the top via leaves like a bromeliad and supported by a trunk.
And also just like bromeliads their water supply will feed other animals that live in water and also sustain a small ecosystem.

Will this still work?
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#7 ttyo888



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Posted 8 June 2009 - 11:41 AM

Hey how about if the stem is swollen like a pineapple of something.

The pineapple is part of the bromeliad family that also have a basin to collect water.
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#8 Sisyphus


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Posted 8 June 2009 - 12:05 PM

Wouldn't it still be limited by a need to transport nutrients to the top? Or maybe there's some kind of hydraulic circulation or something? Also, why would it evolve to be that tall? Just intense competition for sunlight?
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#9 CaptainPanic


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Posted 8 June 2009 - 12:26 PM


There are more, but it's really hard to find out the name of a plant if you don't even know in which country it grows.

I am not sure that any plant actually collects water from the top with the purpose of using it for photosynthesis (or for even absorbing it at all). I think that if water is limited, it's better absorbed through roots, and then stored inside. Somehow I have the feeling that this will be more efficient because it will limit the evaporation.

Plants may be capable of absorbing some water through the leaves though.
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#10 ttyo888



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Posted 8 June 2009 - 12:44 PM

Wouldn't it still be limited by a need to transport nutrients to the top? Or maybe there's some kind of hydraulic circulation or something? Also, why would it evolve to be that tall? Just intense competition for sunlight?

If the plant also collect water from the roots and also get 25% more water from the basin on top

I managed to find out from the scientists that made the program that the height limit of plants here on earth is limited by the height which the water tubes in the stems can go. So I am guessing that the water from the top can ensure that the plant's tissues that are beyond the height limit of the plant can get hydrated from the water in the basin. A two way water collecting system perhaps?
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