Various types of plants, fungi and even animals are known to change their shape in strong winds to reduce drag.
Leaves, in particular are known to curl up in strong winds. How they do this is not well understood, because of the dynamic nature of the problem and the difficulty taking good data.
So Laura Miller and pals at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have had a stab at working out what’s going on by videoing leaves in wind.
They’ve also videoed the way some leaves aquaplane in water, that is rise to the surface to reduce drag. Curiously, leaves from herbaceous plants seem to display the aquaplaning behaviour whereas tree leaves do not, presumably because herbaceous leaves, being generally closer to the ground, are more likely to be caught in flood waters.
There are obvious selection advantages for organisms that can survive strong winds and floods so it’s no surprise that some kind of protection mechanism has evolved. That makes it all the more fascinating to see it in action.
The video is here and is worth a look if you have a few minutes.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0810.1975: Leaf Roll-Up and Aquaplaning in Strong Winds and Floods