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  • Strategy

Roots maximize water uptake: plants


Tree with roots exposed / Aaron Escoba.. / LicenseCC-by - Attribution

Roots of plants maximize water uptake by adapting their orientation to the environment.

"To find water, a plant has to position its roots with just as much precision as it arranges its leaves. If moisture is in very short supply, then a plant may have to drive a tap root deep into the ground to reach the water table. Some desert plants have had to develop root systems that are far deeper than they are tall and extend laterally a very long way beyond the furthest extent of their foliage. Even if the environment is well-watered, a plant may still need to compete with others for this essential commodity, so it positions a network of roots within a few inches of the soil surface, where it can gather the rain water before others can." (Attenborough 1995:48-51)
About the inspiring organism
Med_2569091622_b0d8315d8a_b Plantae

Learn more at
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist

Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Reduce urban runoff by integrating root design into pavement or building designs. Design solar water pump.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Computer industry, building industry, biosensors, manufacturing

Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
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over 6 years ago
Can anyone attest to the accuracy of, or refute this statement, particularly
with reference to a plant "finding" water, "positioning" its roots with
"precision," "driving" a tap root to "reach" the water table, and
"positions" a network of roots . . . "where it can gather the rain water
before others can?"
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