Charles Darwin noted that a cucumber’s tendrils allow it to act in un-plantlike ways. Like a baby’s hand reaching for its mother finger the grasp and the reach tell of stronger things to come. A cucumber’s tendrils astounds any gardener.
How does it coil
Spiraling upwards towards the sun all the while holding up and keeping the large bounty intact, the stem stays straight and then turns into a tendril looking for something to coil around. When pulled out flat by either end it overwinds and coils even more, but if you try to lay a telephone cord out it lays flat.
Reaching for the nearest trellis or support
Professor L. Mahadevan Harvard University, “the advantage of the tendril is the plant doesn’t need to devise a set of complex machinery of branches and trunk structure.” Mahadevan says he’s not out to make a new coil or device it’s already been done, “it’s simply out of curiosity.”
His team worked on mathematical and mechanical equations and experimented with cell fibers, using glue wire, copper and tape. “As a scientist if I understand something I should be able to create it. We are not just theorists, or experimentalists, mathematicians, physicists or engineers. Nature certainly does not care; she is subtle and it is up to us to tease out how she works.”