18 January 2013
Why Swiss cheese plants are full of holes
By Ella Davies Reporter, BBC Nature
The "monster" leaves can reach up to
Swiss cheese plants' iconic leaves help them to avoid stress, according to a US scientist.
Their familiar hole-riddled leaves allow the plants to capture sunlight more regularly, his research suggests.
The counterintuitive idea explains how such plants can survive in shady rainforests.
Commonly grown as house plants, they are found in the wild from southern Mexico to Colombia.
Many theories have been suggested for the unusual perforated leaves.
One is that the holes in the leaves allow the plants to resist hurricane winds, by letting the wind pass through. Another that they allow better temperature regulation or water to run through the plants down to its roots. Some have suggested the holes somehow camouflage the plants, hiding them from herbivores.
But these ideas have rarely been scientifically tested. (...)
Continue reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/21059874