The main function of plant latex is assumed to be defensive, preventing entry of pathogens into wounds. Bauer and Speck examine the role of coagulation of latex in restoring mechanical properties by measuring the tensile strength of bark samples of Ficus benjamina (weeping fig) at intervals after wounding. They find a significant increase in strength occurs during the first 30 minutes after injury, and this can be attributed to the coagulation of plant latex alone. This seals the lesion and may prevent cracks in the bark from spreading.
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