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Nodal Septa and the Rigidity of Aerial Shoots of Equisetum hyemale

Karl J. Niklas
American Journal of Botany
Vol. 76, No. 4 (Apr., 1989), pp. 521-531
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2444346
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Nodal Septa and the Rigidity of Aerial Shoots of Equisetum hyemale
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Abstract

The biomechanical role of septate nodes (points of leaf attachment with transverse diaphragms of tissue) in the otherwise hollow aerial stems of Equisetum hyemale L. is examined by means of multiple resonance frequency spectra. Resonance frequencies were determined for intact shoots, as well as the same shoots through which metal needles were inserted to destroy septa at nodes. The elastic modulus (E) of shoots, before and after surgical manipulation, was calculated. Shoots with perforated septa had E values from 17 to 32% less than intact shoots. During winter months with subfreezing temperatures, shoots with intact nodal septa accumulated water (in the form of ice) in their internodal pith canals. Values of E calculated for a shoot with intact septa and internodal water, and for the same shoot without septa do not differ significantly. Calculations indicate that the mass of internodal water is a significant fraction of the mass sufficient to deflect and buckle shoots. The added mass of internodal water is sufficient to mask the actual elastic modulus of shoots. The data indicate that nodes with septa significantly influence the flexural rigidity of shoots, but that this influence changes as a function of the quantity of water found in pith cavities.

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