Pine cones fold their scales when it rains to prevent seeds from short-distance dispersal. Given that the scales of pine cones consist of nothing but dead cells, this folding motion is evidently related to structural changes. In this study, the structural characteristics of pine cones are studied on micro-/macro-scale using various imaging instruments. Raindrops fall along the outer scales to the three layers (bract scales, fibers and innermost lignified structure) of inner pine cones. However, not all the layers but only the bract scales get wet and then, most raindrops move to the inner scales. These systems reduce the amount of water used and minimize the time spent on structural changes. The result shows that the pine cones have structural advantages that could influence the efficient motion of pine cones. This study provides new insights to understand the motion of pine cones and would be used to design a novel water transport system.
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