Study reveals how thirsty trees pull water to their canopies

A scientific mystery about how trees pull water from the ground to their top branches has been solved by an international team of researchers led by Dr Adrian Boatwright, who conducted the research while at the Department of Chemistry.

The study has examined the phenomenon of water being pulled to the top of tree branches, when scientific theory says that the maximum height water can be pulled up is 33 feet due to gravity – known as the barometric limit.

The researchers have discovered that water can in fact be held in a vacuum for almost indefinite periods of time and even under significant tension without forming bubbles or breaking apart, which helps to explain how trees siphon water to their highest points.

The team also found that water can be pulled up to as much as 45 feet - well above the barometric limit, overturning the theory proposed by seventeenth century Italian physicist and mathematician Evangelista Torricelli which has stood for the last 400 years.