Guttation: a square meal in a round drop

No rant today: just the Beauty and Wonder of Crying Plants.

I’ve already posted here about guttation—the clunky term for a delicate process—but this morning’s weepers must be shared. As must be an update about what guttation really is…

Kale is a new weeping plant for me:

As is this Black Snakeroot I forgot was in the violet bed:

Not all plants cry at the margins: only certain species have special pores that let weep excess moisture.
Who can resist not oooing and ahhhhing at leaves outlined in crystalline droplets?

[wild grapevine]

The droplets are water fountains for creatures tiny enough to use them.

My dream is for everyone to get the chance to watch a lightning bug—spent from his evening’s exertions—slurp a morning drink from the edge of a leaf.

Such a sight could be an advertisement against pesticides. Poisons “out” themselves in every part of a plant, including the water pushed out via guttation.
Surely no one wants to poison FIREFLIES?


TIL / Today I Learned:

There’s not *only* water in those teardrops: there’s a menu! A square meal in a round drop!
Guttation is a mix of xylem and phloem, carbs and proteins!

I just learned this from a Royal Society study.
It must be true, because it’s Royal.
The report’s conclusion is pasted below, verbatim, but I’ve formatted it for easier reading:

“Here, we demonstrate that plant guttation droplets are, unlike nectar,
– present in an ecosystem during an entire growing season,
– attract insects from numerous taxa,
– increase twice the abundance of predators and parasitoids in plants with droplets versus plants without droplets,
– enhance the survival and reproductive capacity of insects from three distinct families and feeding lifestyles (i.e. herbivores, parasitic [sic] wasps and predators),
-and are not only rich in carbohydrates but also contain proteins.”

[wild grapevine]

Guttation is dinner AND a show!

Next time your yard is damp, and the morning is early—before sun dries all—go look for crying plants?
And for anyone eating or hunting at the drops?


My earlier Guttation post: “When Plants Cry.

The guttation research article from the Royal Society:
Plant guttation provides nutrient-rich food for insects

Thank you, Richard, for pointing out that the study wrote “parasitic wasps” when they really meant “parasitoid.” I have now added a “sic” to their quote above.
Where would we be without Nature Nerd friends to point things out to us?


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Joanna Brichetto is a naturalist and writer in Nashville, the hackberry-tree capital of the world.

She writes about everyday natural wonders amid every habitat loss, and her essays have appeared in Creative NonfictionBrevity, Fourth Genre, Hippocampus, The Hopper, Flyway, The Common, City Creatures, The Fourth River and other journals.

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