The more we discover about the natural world, the more we find that nature is the greatest engineer. Past research implied that liquids can only be transported in fixed direction on species with specific liquid communication properties and cannot switch the transport direction. Recently, researchers have shown that an African plant controls water movement in a previously unknown way — and this could inspire breakthroughs in a range of technologies in fluid dynamics and nature-inspired materials, including applications that require multistep and repeated reactions, such as microassays, medical diagnosis and solar desalination etc.