Last updated: November 19, 2021

What Does Lignin Mean?

Lignin is the complex polymers that give woody plants their structure, strength, and rigidness. Chemically speaking, lignins are considered cross-linked phenolic polymers.

Without the polymers of lignin, woody trees would simply flop over because they would not have the cellular structure that makes wood rigid.


Maximum Yield Explains Lignin

Lignin is one of the most common organic polymers on earth and constitutes 30 per cent of non-fossil organic carbon. Only cellulose is more prevalent as an organic polymer.

Lignin is particularly important for the formation of wood and bark cells. It doesn’t rot easily and provides incredible strength per square inch.

Lignin's composition varies from species to species. The composition of lignin is somewhat different in the structure of hardwoods than for softwoods such as aspen.

Lignin also plays an important role in the vascular system of woody plants and is crucial in conducting water through stems. The components are highly porous and permeable to water. Lignin makes it possible to move water through the plant in an efficient manner.

It was previously believed that the primary function of lignin was to move water throughout a plant, but lignin was later discovered to be present in red algae. This would suggest that its primary function is actually structural. This was later proven to be the case when lignin was first seriously discussed by Swiss biologist A.P. de Candolle in 1883. He described it as a fibrous and tasteless material.


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