That’s sweet! If any air molecule ended up in a xylem tube, would the entire column of water spontaneously boil?
I don’t know for sure, Andrew. It would seem to depend on whether the effect of the negative pressure around the air bubble could somehow ripple downward to the rest of the water column. My thinking is that since trees don’t suddenly boil when their branches are trimmed, the effect of boiling around a localized nucleation site is only felt in the immediate vicinity of the air bubble.
I’ll tell you one thing for certain, though. This video totally changes the way I think about tree trimming.
It’s hard to believe that this negative pressure occurs just so the trees can absorb CO2! Would this explain why trees don’t regrow after being chopped down? Because the xylems are no longer filled with water, the suction can no longer occur (like the straw, they are now filled with air).
Trees have the ability to seal up the openings that occur when their branches are cut. However, I do not know whether they have the ability to remove the gases that may enter upon being cut. Interesting hypothesis!
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