The multiscale nature of leaf growth fields

Shahaf Armon, Michael Moshe, Eran Sharon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A growing leaf is a prototypical active solid, as its active units, the cells, locally deform during the out-of-equilibrium process of growth. During this local growth, leaves increase their area by orders of magnitude, yet maintain a proper shape, usually flat. How this is achieved in the lack of a central control, is unknown. Here we measure the in-plane growth tensor of Tobacco leaves and study the statistics of growth-rate, isotropy and directionality. We show that growth strongly fluctuates in time and position, and include multiple shrinkage events. We identify the characteristic scales of the fluctuations. We show that the area-growth distribution is broad and non-Gaussian, and use multiscale statistical methods to show how growth homogenizes at larger/longer scales. In contrast, we show that growth isotropy does not homogenize in time. Mechanical analysis shows that with such growth statistics, a leaf can stay flat only if the fluctuations are regulated/correlated. Plant leaves are out of equilibrium active solid sheets that grow in a decentralized fashion by deforming its unit cells while maintaining a typical shape. Here, the authors measure the surface growth of Tobacco leaves at high spatial and temporal resolution, and find that growth dynamics is dominated by sharp fluctuations at the cellular scale, suggesting that it is regulated and correlated in space and time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number122
Number of pages7
JournalCommunications Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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