Tissues of plants protect from tension by having a biphasic layer of cellulose microfibers against a matrix of hemicelluloses and lignin.

“The first portion of the biphasic stress-strain curve, exhibiting a high modulus of elasticity and little viscoelasticity, is due to elastic extension. The second portion is explained by yielding of the matrix and slippage of the microfibrils past each other. This leads to a decreased modulus of elasticity and a much higher viscoelasticity. The extension during the first phase causes the microfibrillar angle to decrease…In our case, the cellulose microfibrils may have the ability to align more in the direction of the applied strain and in turn take up increasingly more load.” (Kohler and Spatz 2002:38,40)

Last Updated August 28, 2020