Thursday, January 13, 2011

Power of Plants

Wild Plants And Wooly Bears

Here’s something that has fascinated me for years. Call it the power of plants. Specifically, it amazes me that when low-growing, pointed-leafed plants begin shooting up in early spring, the leaves often penetrate whatever has fallen on top of them over the winter.

This often includes dried leaves of deciduous trees and even, in some cases, bits of tree bark.

Now here’s the thing. If you took a dried leaf and tried to poke a hole in it with, say, a crocus leaf, the crocus leaf would bend before it penetrated the dry leaf. Something doesn’t make sense here.

Someone with a keen knowledge of physics could probably explain this. I can only guess. And here’s my guess.

As the crocus leaf begins to grow, it does so in slow but steady increments. This motion is not enough to pick the dead leaf up and move it, as anyone might logically expect would happen in this case. But no, the crocus leaf (or leaves) keeps up its slight but steady progress. This focuses the most pressure on a tiny point, the tip of the growing leaf.

In time, the weight of the dried maple leaf, bit of birch bark or whatever it is, allows the pointed end of the crocus leaf to eventually force its way through.

In other words, if the crocus (or whatever) leaf grew quickly, it would simply push the dried maple leaf aside. But instead, it grows slowly and that slow motion allows the pointed end of the crocus leaf to make a teeny hole. This eventually becomes a larger hole as the crocus leaf grows and reaches its full diameter.

And by gosh, I just think that this is wicked neat.

There may reside in this an analogy for us. Keep at it, whatever it might be. Eventually, you will persevere.

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