Sunlight water droplets can lead to burnt plants

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Washington, January 11 (ANI): A new study by scientists has found that in some cases, watering your garden in the midday can lead to burnt plants because of sunlit water droplets.

"The problem of light focusing by water droplets adhered to plants has never been thoroughly investigated, neither theoretically, nor experimentally", said lead researcher Dr Gabor Horvath, from Hungary's Eotvos University.

"However, this is far from a trivial question. The prevailing opinion is that forest fires can be sparked by intense sunlight focused by water drops on dried-out vegetation," he added.

The research team conducted both computational and experimental studies to determine how the contact angle between the water droplet and a leaf affects the light environment on a leaf blade.

The aim was to clarify the environmental conditions under which sunlit water drops can cause leaf burn.

These experiments found that water droplets on a smooth surface, such as maple or ginkgo leaves, cannot cause leaf burn.

However, in contrast, the team found that floating fern leaves, which have small wax hairs, are susceptible to leaf burn.

This is because the hairs can hold the water droplets in focus above the leaf's surface, acting as a magnifying glass.

The latter not only partly confirms the widely held belief of gardeners, but also opens an analogous issue of sunburn on hairy human skin after bathing.

"In sunshine water drops residing on smooth hairless plant leaves are unlikely to damage the leaf tissue", according to Horvath and co-authors.

"However, water drops held by plant hairs can indeed cause sunburn and the same phenomenon can occur when water droplets are held above human skin by body hair," they added. (ANI)

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