Could a tree grow upside down?

Imagine a piece of land three metres square. Imagine it’s suspended 50 metres above Earth. And imagine its soil is kept together by a cradle underneath.

Imagine a set of solar panels positioned on the ground, angled to point sunlight to the underside of the suspended earth. And imagine irrigation systems are in place to keep that land well watered from above—excess water falling from the platform back to Earth.

Now plant an oak sapling in the underside of the suspended platform, such that it is unhampered by the cradle.

How high would the sapling grow? Indeed, would it grow?

So long as it didn’t rely on the traditional direction of gravity in relation to itself for water to pass down its trunk and branches, my view is that it would grow. Being upside down, the water would instead travel from the root to its branches. Whether it would suffer from a surfeit of liquid at the end of its tiny branches, who knows?

But if it could grow upside down, would it grow more rapidly given that it would be growing with, rather than against, gravity?

And would this offer a solution, admittedly a far-fetched solution, to allow richer crops to grow in shorter time windows?


2 Responses to “Could a tree grow upside down?”

  1. Steph Gray on July 24th, 2011 22:06

    I’m no biologist, but ‘gravitropism’ popped into my mind on reading this:

  2. Simon on July 27th, 2011 08:41

    I think you’d want to use *mirrors* rather than solar panels to reflect the sunlight onto the tree?

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