Can branches bend steel?

Discussion in 'Plants: Science and Cultivation' started by raingarden, Apr 26, 2020.

  1. raingarden

    raingarden New Member

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    I found a stem or new little trunk growing up through a pen sized hole in a buried piece of scrap metal, as I was cultivating around a shrub. I've read that people who cut down residential trees almost always find metal in the trunk, because it had to grow around something of the sort. This one had two tiny stems, however and the metal was sharp around them. Not very thick though, since I could cut it apart with tin snips. If I hadn't noticed that though, do you think it could have grown larger through there, or around the metal starting from within it? Judging by the size of another new stem nearby, it was much larger around, as if the metal was preventing the other one from keeping up, but I'm not sure if they started growing at the same time.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2020
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Yes, easily, due to the ability of (particularly woody) plants to create wound tissue and the pressure of water in small spaces (this is how roots break rocks).
     
  3. raingarden

    raingarden New Member

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    That's interesting, I hadn't heard of roots breaking rocks, except for displacing concrete (but it doesn't have a high tensile strength, if I recall correctly). Because the concrete is porous too, it can be broken down incrementally, or collapse as a chain reaction if roots shift the soil underneath it. As far as what little I just reviewed about roots or steel, it seems like it would depend (obviously if the steel were as thin as tin foil, it wouldn't be as resistant as rebar). I haven't heard of roots growing through reinforced concrete, so maybe that's why (if the steel increases its tensile strength).

    Turgor pressure
    "A growing root cell's turgor pressure can be up to 0.6 MPa, which is over three times that of a car tire".
    Turgor pressure - Wikipedia

    The Strength of Mild Steel
    "Yield strength is defined as being the amount of stress applied to a material that will deform it permanently...
    Mild steel as an approximate yield strength of 250 MPa".
    The Strength of Mild Steel

    The piece of steel these branches were growing through was an angle with a jagged hole through its apex, but it was corroded by rust to the point its yield strength was low enough for me to bend by hand (at least after I cut through it), so maybe the wood could have chipped away at it, so to speak. I don't think the stems poked that hole though, because they were much smaller around (like toothpicks), yet spread out to is edges, with empty space in between, or maybe there was a shorter stem in the middle too (there is now anyway). I don't remember exactly how they were stuck in there, but I broke the tip off of one of them, trying at first to pull those out without risking a cut through there (maybe it was that I couldn't push them together without the tips bunching up, or I couldn't move the piece of metal in a confined space, and it was dark outside). So, after a couple weeks or so of sun, the other two tips are starting to develop a small leaf lately. I wasn't sure if it was going to grow for a while there, funny how plants or plantlets look like they're about dead and then rejuvinate themselves somehow. I'd separated this one from the parent plant because it would have been growing against a fence post after all that jazz.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2020
  4. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    Roots breaking rocks is one of the classic ways in which soil is formed.
     
  5. raingarden

    raingarden New Member

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    That's good to know, I'll have to throw some of the brittle rocks from an old wall, which I can break with my bare hands, into the garden dirt to enrich it. Or it's probably better to pulverize them with a hammer so the worms won't have a bunch of sharp edges to brush up against, and they'll move the minerals from rock dust around in there I guess... Yeah I just looked it up, and it's consdered to be a soil ammendment: Rock flour - Wikipedia | Rockdust - Wikipedia.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2020

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