Environment

Trees have a ‘heartbeat’! New discovery previously missed as the beat is so slow

Trees mirror how a heart pumps as they pump water from roots to leaves

Any plant parents out there will have heard that talking to our flowers and shrubs can help them grow.  

And anyone who actually does this, will be delighted to know that we are indeed more closely related to nature than first thought.

For scientists have now discovered that trees have a ‘heartbeat’ just like humans.

While trees have always been considered a living entity, due their ability to grow unlike non-living entities, their heartbeat has never been noticed until now as it is so slow.

[Credit: Shutterstock]

Previously, it was believed that water moved through trees by the process of osmosis.

However, experts have now discovered that the trunks and branches of trees are actually contracting and expanding in a motion that mirrors how a heart pumps blood throughout the body, as they pump water up from the roots to the leaves.

Yet while a normal resting heart rate for adults is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, comparatively trees beat only once every two hours.

[Credit: Luca Bravo / Unsplash]

And while a heart’s job is to regulate blood pressure and carry oxygen to other organs, a tree’s ‘heart’ regulates the water pressure flowing through it instead.

Chatting to New Scientist, researcher András Zlinszky spoke about his analysis of 22 different tree species which led to the discovery of their changes which mimic a heartbeat.

Zlinszky said: “We’ve discovered that most trees have regular periodic changes in shape, synchronised across the whole plant, which imply periodic changes in water pressure.”

[Credit: Matt Artz]

While a tree’s ‘heart’ might not be fit for a human transplant anytime soon, the new research does shine a light on the magnificent structures taking place deep in their systems.

For now, we’ll make do with talking to them…  

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