The fascinating leaves of plants in watery habitats

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Plants that live in lakes, by the sea, in salt water and marshes with high salt levels encounter similar difficulties to those in deserts. But as is the case with all living things, plants living in such regions have been created with characteristics totally suited to their habitats. These plants’ leaves and stem structures, the greater part of which lies under water, have been specially designed to permit them to survive under such conditions. For example, plants that live in salt water have thick, leathery leaves much like desert-dwelling plants. This gives them the ability to store high levels of fresh water in their tissues without being damaged by excessive salt.
 

. . . Allah shows favor to mankind. but most of them are not thankful.  (Surah Yunus: 60)
 

In the brackish regions where plants such as samphire, and seablite live, they are frequently exposed to flooding, which causes a large quantity of salt to enter the roots of the plant, which will ordinarily be harmful. Yet these plants are not harmed by excessive salt because they have special glands that remove the excess salt from their tissues. Plants that live under such conditions are known as halophytes.

Salt marsh plants such as the glasswort are regularly surrounded by sea water. Plants of this kind survive thanks to letting their leaves remain on the water’s surface, buoyed by the presence of special air-filled structures underneath. Giant Amazonian lilies are one of the species that possess such leaves.

The roots of plants that live in water or in water-logged soil are completely saturated, which raises the question of how such plants can obtain air. Like the other plants we’ve discussed, species that live with their roots in water possess the ideal characteristics for their environment. For example, a tissue known as aerenchyma permits those parts of marsh plants that remain under water to obtain oxygen. Air pockets in these tissues has the ability to expand. In plants such as the water lily and Elodea, oxygen is transmitted from the trunk and leaves, those parts of the plant that lie outside the water, to the lower regions under water.

 


So, these plants could not survive without the air pockets in their roots and the systems that carry oxygen down to them from the outside. It is not possible for any plant to develop a tissue that widens air pockets by itself. Neither is it possible for such a structure to develop gradually and by chance. A plant living in marshes or periodically flooded by water has no time to wait for chance phenomena to develop, over the course of millions of years, a system that will carry oxygen down to the plant’s roots. That is because it cannot survive and reproduce in the absence of that system! This means that this plant’s oxygen-carrying and storage system must have existed, fully formed and perfect, from the moment the plant itself was first created.

This can take place only as the result of a magnificent, flawlessly planned and executed creation, not through blind coincidences.

 


2010-09-20 10:01:55

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