Plants have some amazing ways of surviving – and the adaptations of their leaves are very important in their survival. All plants need water, but too much water can be a dangerous thing! Mould grows on leaves if they get too wet. In the rain forest, leaves have adapted in different ways to cope with exceptionally high rainfall. Some leaves are waxy and thick – allowing water to fall straight off them and down to the roots. Others have drip tips that act like a spout, allowing extra water to dribble off. Some plants and trees even have leaves that catch rain as it falls and hold onto it. These leaves absorb the water slowly as and when the plant needs it. They may also resist mould more easily than other leaves.
Some leaves are enormous, like the leaves of the giant rhubarb plant can grow up to 2 metres wide, and 4 metres long! Some plants have leaves which are adapted to protect them from animals. They can defend themselves with poison, spines or camouflage. Some will even move! The Venus flytrap closes its leaves around insects when they sit on it, and digests them. The mimosa folds its leaves shut as soon as animals touch it. Other plants trap insects, and even small rodents, like the pitcher plant. These traps contain up to two litres of water and digestive juices which will drown animals which fall within the beaker shaped leaves!!
GCSE Science students – you need to be able to describe how leaves adapted for their function. Our guide, “How to work with Adaptations of Leaves” can help. Included, as always are questions to try, and answers to check your understanding.
To see the guide, click on the picture below.