Moving with climbing plants from Charles Darwin's time into the 21st Century


S Isnard
W Silk

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American Journal of Botany


We provide an overview of research on climbing plants from Charles Darwin to the present day. Following Darwin ’ s interests, this review will focus on functional perspectives including attachment mechanisms and stem structure and function. We draw at- tention to a number of unsolved problems inviting future research. These include the mechanism for establishment of the twining habit, a quantitative description following the development of a tissue element through space and time, the chemistry of sticky exu- dates, the microstructure of xylem and the capacity for water storage, the vulnerability to embolism, and the mechanism for em- bolism repair. In conclusion we cite evidence that, in response to increasing CO 2 concentration, anthropic perturbation and/ or increasing forest fragmentation, lianas are increasing relative to tree species. In the 21st century, we are returning to the multiscale, multidisciplinary approach taken by Darwin to understand natural history.

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