Why mangrove trees don’t fall over described in Annals of Botany doi: 10.1093/aob/mcv002 published online 13 February 2015. Mangrove trees grow in soft unstable ground, which means they are likely to be blown over in storms if they grow too tall and top heavy. Red mangrove trees, Rhizophora mangle, have prop-like structures, named rhizophores, projecting from the sides of their trunks. To see if these helped the trees grow taller without getting too heavy to stay upright scientists in Mexico have studied the structural mechanics of red mangrove trees and compared them with black mangrove trees, Avicennia germinans, which grows in the same environment but does not have rhizophores.

They found that trees with rhizophores had a “thinner stem of higher mechanical resistance that is stabilized by rhizophores resembling flying buttresses”. They went on to say: “This provides a unique strategy to increase tree slenderness and height in the typically unstable substrate on which the trees grow, at a site that is subject to frequent storms”.

Editorial Comment: Flying buttresses are an architectural device that once discovered by man enabled builders to construct tall buildings without having to make the walls too thick. They work by transmitting outward forces through a bridge-like structure, often arched, to the ground through a pillar or block of masonry that is separate from the wall. This structure enabled walls to be thinner with larger areas free for windows and decorations, just like the rhyzophores enable mangrove trees to grow taller, but keep a narrow trunk so they don’t get too top heavy.

Flying buttresses are a distinctive feature of medieval cathedrals, which were supposedly erected for the worship of God, but were often more for the self-aggrandisement of men. Nevertheless, they involved very clever planning and construction, and are a credit to their architects and builders. Therefore, face up to it: more credit is due to the Creator who designed and made mangrove trees, which are more complex than any man-made building, and make excellent use of flying buttresses. (Ref. botany, architecture, design, swamps)

Evidence News vol.15, No. 3
11 March 2015
Creation Research Australia