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Additional information is available at http://www.technologyreview.com/Biotech/21382/?nlid=1347&a=f. The article explains the implication of 'metastable states'. Water cannot be 'pulled' to a height exceeding 34', since the pressure exerted by a column of that height just balances the pressure of the atmosphere through the roots. This is a well-known problem with the old 'hand crank' farm pumps and was solved by submersible pumps that push water from below.

The transpiration-pull theory should therefore retrict trees to 34 feet, yet sequoias reach 370 feet. http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/X/Xylem.html suggests a number of solutions.

Thanks to Gauthier Chapelle for the pointer!

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