Arboreal structures: tree benches, streetlamps

A splendid concept is being pursued to manipulate the roots of trees to create useful structures:

Pilot projects now underway in the United States, Australia and Israel include park benches for hospitals, playground structures, streetlamps and gates. “The approach is a new application of the well-known botanical phenomenon of aerial root development,” says Prof. Eshel. “Instead of using plant branches, this patented approach takes malleable roots and shapes them into useful objects for indoors and out.”

A company called Plantware is developing these, and similar methods, to create a wide variety of tree-based items. In addition researchers from Tel Aviv University are developing other environmentally friendly ideas:

Prof. Eshel’s team is also working on a number of other projects to save the planet’s resources. They are currently investigating a latex-producing shrub, Euphoria tirucalii, which can be grown easily in the desert, as a source for biofuel; they are also genetically engineering plant roots to ensure “more crop per drop,” an innovative approach to irrigation.

[story via Physorg]