I know there exists a huge variation in the height of trees. But what is the maximum height a tree can reach?

It must have something to do with the ability of the capillaries to transport life fluids all the way to the top. What is (are) the theor(y)(ies) about the maximum height, if there are any, and what do(es) it (they) predict?

Does it match reality?


1 Answer 1


The transport of water, and dissolved minerals, from the soil to the tops of trees is a combination of three factors. Root pressure pulls the water in due to factors related to osmosis. Capillary action helps draw it up the hydrophyllic vascular tissue. But the most important factor is due to evaporation in the leaves. This has some rather detailed aspects, search "transpiration" for details.

Although Coastal Redwoods are typically cited as being the tallest, some Douglass Firs are also in the competition. If you re seriously interested, here's a link to a Humbolt State University professor, Steve Sillett, who both studies and climbs these trees in search of the record. His book is a great read, also introducing you to the remarkable ecology near the tops of these trees. http://magazine.humboldt.edu/fall09/tallest-trees-unveiled/


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