Wetting properties and foliar water uptake of Tillandsia L.


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Quantitative dimensional analyses of the wetting property of selected Tillandsia L. were conducted. The wettability on the leaf surfaces of three Tillandsia species and one hybrid cultivar has significant variations (p < .05). This variation is influenced by their absorptive foliar trichomes. The structure, arrangement and density of their foliar trichomes on the leaf surfaces and the degree of corrugated trichome wings with variations on micro−/nano-protrusion allow the liquids to increase its spreading and/or liquid repellency. Among the Tillandsia species, T. schiedeana Steudel has the densest trichomes. The average trichome densities are as follows: T. schiedeana (61.20 mm2 ± 3.36) has the highest and T. Houston (T. stricta Sol. ex Sims T. recurvifolia Hook) hybrid (45.24 mm2 ± 5.93) has the lowest trichome density on the adaxial leaf surface; while T. schiedeana (63.55 mm2 ± 10.46) has the highest and T. xerographica Rohweder (40.66 mm2 ± 17.72) has the lowest trichome density found on the abaxial leaf surface (p < .0001). All examined Tillandsia exhibited foliar water uptake. One of them, T. schiedeana had significantly greater increase in leaf water content up to 115.9% followed by T. Houston (57.37%) > T. xerographica (36.63%) > T. caput-medusae E. Morren (35.91%). Based on the results of adhesion and surface free energy of the leaf surfaces, the desirable wetting properties of all four Tillandsia plants used in this study were determined. Among the four, T. schiedeana and T. caput medusae exhibited interesting liquid adhesion on the adaxial leaf surface which makes the two plants hydrophilic on this particular leaf surface. On the other hand, the highest water drop adherence to the leaf surface is observed in T. schiedeana which is necessary for its high foliar water uptake. In this study, it was proven that structure, arrangement and density of foliar trichomes found in Tillandsia affect the spreading of liquid and leaf surface wettability on their leaf surfaces which in turn improve the foliar water uptake of these plants.


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Foliar diagnosis; Foliar trichomes; Foliar water uptake; Liquid spreading and wetting property

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