Introduction

Many vines and lianas show extreme variations in mechanical properties during development from young to adult growth. These developmental trends differ from those observed in most self-supporting plants and have a significant effect on how climbing plants exploit the environment. Furthermore, different climbers show a wide range of attachment methods and may differ considerably in size as well as mechanical properties according to how they attach to host plants. To better understand how climbing habits differ, we investigate the mechanical properties of 43 species of tropical and temperate climbing plants according to their mode of attachment. The study includes stem twiners, tendril climbers, hook climbers, branch-angle climbers, and leaning climbers. Mechanical trends during growth are discussed in terms of mode of attachment, taxonomic affinity, and inherent developmental constraints (i.e., existence or lack of secondary growth) as well as approximate size and position of the climbing plant in the surrounding vegetation.

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