From Fluid Mechanics, Fourth Edition

4 Introduction to the Fluid Mechanics of Plants

Plant life comprises 99% of the earth's biomass (Bidwell (1974), Rand (1983)).

The basic unit of a plant is a plant cell. Plant cells are formed at meristems, and then develop into cell types which are grouped into tissues. Plants have three tissue types: 1) Dermal; 2) Ground; and 3) Vascular. Dermal tissue covers the outer surface and is composed of closely packed epidermal cells that secrete a waxy material that aids in the prevention of water loss. The ground tissue comprises the bulk of the primary plant body. Parenchyma, collenchyma, and sclerenchyma cells are common in the ground tissue. Vascular tissue transports food, water, hormones and minerals within the plant.

Basically, a plant has two organ systems: 1) the shoot system, and 2) the root system. The shoot system is above ground and includes the organs such as leaves, buds, stems, flowers and fruits. The root system includes those parts of the plant below ground, such as the roots, tubers, and rhizomes. There is transport between the roots and the shoots (see Fig. (17.24)).


Figure 17.24: Overview of plant fluid mechanics. (Reproduced with permission from Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, Vol. 15 1983 Annual Reviews www.AnnualReviews.org.)

Transport in plants occurs on three levels: (1). The uptake and loss of water and solutes by individual cells, (2). Short-distance transport of substances from cell to cell at the level of tissues or organs, and, (3). Long-distance transport of sap within...

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