Leaves in the lowest and highest winds: temperature, force and shape.
Climatic extremes can be as significant as averages in setting the conditions for successful organismal function and in determining the distribution of different forms. For lightweight, flexible structures such as leaves, even extremes lasting a few seconds can matter. The present review considers two extreme situations that may pose existential risks. Broad leaves heat rapidly when ambient air flows drop below c. 0.5 m s(-1). Devices implicated in minimizing heating include: reduction in size, lobing, and adjustments of orientation to improve convective cooling; low near-infrared absorptivity; and thickening for short-term heat storage. Different features become relevant when storm gusts threaten to tear leaves and uproot trees with leaf-level winds of 20 m s(-1) or more. Both individual leaves and clusters may curl into low-drag, stable cones and cylinders, facilitated by particular blade shapes, petioles that twist readily, and sufficient low-speed instability to initiate reconfiguration. While such factors may have implications in many areas, remarkably little relevant experimental work has addressed them.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
Pubmed Central ID
Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)