|Different Leaf Shapes
Isn't it amazing that they come in so many different shapes? What would have affected their shape? First of all, why is the average leaf shaped to be thick in the middle and tapered to the ends?
Leaf is the kitchen of the plant. That's where the plant cooks its food. To cook its food, it needs water, minerals, air and sunlight. Water and minerals are transported from the roots through a network of viens. It also absorbs carbon dioxide from the surrounding air and sunlight during the day. The shape of a leaf has been designed by nature to be as efficient as possible in doing its job! The difference in the shapes are a result of the different kind of environments each of the plants are designed to live in. Let us examine a few such factors.
Even an abundance of water needs to be tackled. Plants that grow near or on water need to keep their leaves above water where they can have enough air and light. Such plants also have thicker leaves that have air pockets to keep them afloat.
Apart from these simple factors, there are many other reasons why plants may develop different style of leaves. It is a combination of circumstances that finally decide the best leaf shape for a plant. While most simple leaf shapes can be explained, certain shapes have been a matter of debate for scientists since a long time.
Things to ponder on:
- Do you know what the leaf of cactus actually is?
- Why do some leaves turn colorful before they fall?