Climbing Lianas

This liana wants the support from someone else to climb up and grow? Who is this?

Liana is a vine that climbs up with the support of trees and grows well with the help of sunlight. These vines are woody and mostly found in tropical rainforests. The stiffness of these vines is more helpful in identifying them from trees and shrubs. Ninety percent of the world’s vine species grow in the rainforests. Forty percent of the canopy cover is sometimes covered by the leaves of these vines because when they grow up, these vines spread from tree to tree. The beginning of these vines start with the forest floor even they go in search of sunlight later. With their sucker roots or tendrils, they attach themselves to the trees or else they wind themselves around the tree’s trunk and climb. The highly poisoned strychnine is made with one of the liana vines, Strychnos toxifera, and the other two types are rattan palms and philodendron. Rattan is used for the production of furniture and ropes.

Hemi epiphytes, the lianas that start life in the canopy and accelerate the growth rate after their roots touch the ground. Independent, thick vines hang on trees while the small ones need the support of the trees until they become independent. Lianas grow up to 60cm in diameter and 100 meters in length. These vines play a very important role in the rainforests by making up 20 percent of the woody plants. It has been found more than 2500 species of vines come from around 90 families of lianas. There are small lianas and also giant ones. Some of them grow more than 3,000 feet in height.  The leaves of lianas may differ according to the environment they live in. Flattering to the trunk, these leaves live on the trunks. Those leaves grow a few inches long when they reach the upper part of the trees and so that they can catch more sunlight. The structure of the leaves is also changed due to that.

The neighbors, the wild animals take maximum use of the liana vines for their daily routines. How? The leaves, nectar, fruits, and pollen of the liana vines are eaten by a large number of animals in the forests. The garlic liana, the scraped-off bark of another type of liana is being used to minimize colds and fever by cooking in water. Most of the wild animals use the web of the liana vines for moving here and there in the rainforests. Animals take the maximum use of the bridges formed by the liana vines. Spider monkeys and sloths are among those animals. Lemurs use these vines to make their nests on them. Accessing the canopy of trees is very well done by these liana vines to the animals who eat leaves and survive.

Lianas put more energy and carbon into the production of leaves and seeds and less towards the growth of a trunk when it compares with the trees they twist around as per the researchers. Apart from that, those researchers have identified some other influences from these vines to the trees. The energy that tree has to put into the growth and fruit production is being lowered. Low fruit production causes to emerge low seeds. Then the lianas cover and extinguish those seedlings. The trees with lianas have the probability of two times dying than the trees without lianas. Not only that but also the trees fruit more efficiently and effectively when they are not with lianas.

Lianas can support the weight of humans while being elastic. It is very difficult to break too. Swinging from one tree to another is not that much easy because they are attached to the ground. Availability of deep root systems in lianas is for the easy accessibility to deep water abundant places. According to the researches, the roots of small lianas are about 2 meters tall and deep over 10 meters. Do not worry if you will run out of water when you are in the forest if there are lianas nearby. Do you know why? These lianas contain water inside them to fulfill your thirst and more will be left too. Vessels of the wood conducting water become large in size to reduce the quantity of cellulose when growing these lianas with time. Liana members of the pea family cover a large number of trees and they cover even more than an acre.

There are also temperature lianas that live in temperature rainforests. Clematis and Vitis are examples for them. These lianas grow well and adapt even in very drought seasons because of their water storage. Lianas are predators. Did you think why? They do not put much of their energy into making larger stems. Instead of that, they depend on host trees and grow up. Not only that, lianas are very good competitors with their host trees for water, nutrients, and other sources even they depend on those trees. How selfish they are.  

Previously it has stated and highlighted the disadvantages and the parasitic features of these lianas. But they are not that much worse. They contribute 15% of net primary productivity and lianas make 10% of tropical biodiversity. Lianas supply food for wildlife and move paths for them. Contribution to the carbon cycle and soil fertility is also remarkable through the leaf turnover process. The wild is being protected from wildfires, cyclones, and also from wind by these vines forgetting us its disadvantages and unfavorable effects.  The weak trees are protected from the wind mostly by the lianas due to the non-breakable, elastic characteristics of these vines. Every plant adopts and changes its structure and functions for its further survival with or without harming the other plants or the living beings. Nature has structured its formation in that way for further maintenance.

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