Monday, April 29, 2013

X is for Xylem (of the Grape Plant)



While writing about Wine from A-Z, friends have asked (with a devilish grin): “What will you write for X?”

Never fear! The world of wine is so vast it even includes one of those tricky X words, specifically: xylem.

Xylem is the woody part of the grape vine that transports water and nutrients—the sap—from the roots to the rest of the plant.

Like what you're reading? Read more wine stories in Alicia Bien's book collection Evolution of a Wine Drinker.


You can visualize the xylem as a one-way street that runs vertically from the top of the roots to the top of the plant. The xylem is used in two cases.

First, the normal process of photosynthesis—by which the plant converts the sunlight it absorbs into chemical energy—causes the plant to become dehydrated thus requiring a transfer of sap along the xylem to the rest of the plant for rehydration.

Second, if there is water in the soil, the plant’s roots will absorb it, which causes pressure to accumulate in the roots forcing the sap to travel from the plant’s roots through its xylem up to the rest of the plant.

The xylem is a vital part of the grape vine’s growth and if I say so myself, pretty darn incredible. So to all you X-word doubters out there: you can wipe off that devilish grin, pour yourself a glass of wine and toast to the xcellent, xtraordinary xylem already!

You’re welcome!