For now, planet Earth is the only one known to harbor life. And much of that life is sustained by the functions that plants perform. For this reason, they are essential beings, since there are many animals (and people) that consume some or other of their parts, since certain fruits, leaves and / or roots are very nutritious, such as lettuce leaves or fruits. of the mandarin.
However, it is important to ask what are plants exactlyespecially if you plan to grow them. Why? Because the treatment we give you can change radically.
So what are plants?
Plants are living beingsLike you and me. It is true: they cannot move once they have germinated, and their cells are somewhat different from the ones we animals have. But thanks to this, they produce their own food, only with sunlight, oxygen and water; they can live for thousands of years, like the Long-lived pine or the sequoia sempervirens; reach heights greater than 60 meters, such as the palm tree Ceroxylon thereforeuense; or blend in so well that they go completely unnoticed, like Lithops.
They began their evolution hundreds of millions of years ago; specifically, about 480 million years ago. Of course, at that time there were no trees, no climbing plants, or any terrestrial plant. In fact, evolution began when chloroplasts and mitochondria appeared in cells, as a result of a symbiosis of bacteria. Thus, the green algae, the ancestors of all the plants that existed later and we can enjoy today.
What are the parts of plants?
It will depend a lot on the type of plant. But in general, we can say that its main parts are the following:
They can be simple, compound, pinnate, bi or tri-pinnate, several meters long or a few centimeters, with the entire margin, serrated, or serrated, … and a long etcetera.. There are an estimated 298.000 species of plants, each with its own characteristics.
Now, all those that have leaves use them for the same thing: to carry out photosynthesis; that is, to absorb sunlight and carbon dioxide from the air through the stomata (pores) on their surface, to transform it into food (starches and sugars). As a result of this process, they expel oxygen.
El stem, if you have it, it can be more or less thick, shorter or longer, and of different colors. Although we do not think about it, this part of the plant can also fulfill the function of carrying out photosynthesis, as long as it has chlorophyll (that is, it is green, like that of herbs). In addition, it also helps to keep them alive, since, for example, trees have lenticels on their trunks, which are small structures through which they can breathe and perspire, something that comes in handy especially when they run out of leaves.
Last but not least, thanks to the stem they can reach astonishing heights. All plants need light to grow, so one that has a stem will have an easier time having all it needs. Especially climbers and fast growing trees They are the ones that can have a greater life expectancy if they live in a jungle or forest, because in a short time they exceed their competitors in height, rapidly colonizing the gaps that are opening as other plants reach the end of their life.
We go to the roots. The root system of plants is a natural wonder. Once the seed germinates, the first thing it does is emerge a root. And it is that, from such an early age, it is vital to find water, as well as to gain energy to be able to overcome the challenges that will undoubtedly arise, such as the attack of pests such as mealybugs or thrips.
We also distinguish several types of roots. In fact, can be classified in different ways: according to its shape, the direction in which it grows and depending on the support given to the plants:
- According to its shape:
- Axonomorphic: it is a thick root from which other, thinner ones emerge.
- Fasciculated: they are roots that are born from the same point, and they are all the same or practically the same.
- Napiform: the main root is thick, since it also serves to store substances that will allow it to survive in times of scarcity.
- Branched: you can distinguish something similar to a main root and other secondary ones which are thinner.
- Tuberous: it is similar to the fasciculate, but increases in thickness when it stores reserve substances.
- According to the direction:
- Aquatic: it is the one that develops in aquatic environments, such as lakes or swamps for example.
- Adventicia: is one that grows on the ground. Learn More.
- Aerial: these roots usually sprout from the stem and grow towards the ground or towards the stem of other plants.
- Storage: they are those that, as their name indicates, store substances that will serve them to survive. Because they grow underground, they can go unnoticed.
- Sucking or parasitic: this is a type of root that extracts the nutrients from a plant for itself, entering it through the stem or through a wound.
- According to the support:
- Contractile: it is an adventitious root whose function is to bring a shoot to the surface of the soil so that it can grow.
- Epiphyte: it is that aerial root that allows a plant to grow without having to parasitize its host.
- Fulcrea: a Fulcrea root, also called a zancuda, is one that grows in the lower parts of the stem to support a plant.
What is the main function of plants?
From the human point of view, of course the most important function they perform is to produce their own food in photosynthesis. Why? Because as a result of this process, they expel oxygen. As we said before, by capturing the energy of the sun and by absorbing carbon dioxide and water, they can obtain sugars. Without moving from the site.
The oxygen they expel is used by us to breathe; that is, to exist. But … you may be surprised by what I am going to tell you now: plants breathe, also oxygen. And they do it all day and all night. They do it through the stomata, lenticels and the root hairs (from the roots), absorbing the O2 and using the carbohydrates they have in their reserves, to later expel the carbon dioxide.
But when you breathe what happens is that they lose water, that is, they perspire. This water is released in the form of vapor. When the amount that is lost is greater than what its roots absorb, the stomata close to try to keep the plant hydrated. Now, if they are kept closed too long, their life could come to an end.
What benefits do plants give us humans?
Humans have learned to use many plants to obtain some other benefit, such as getting food, wood, fibers or medicine. And that is not to mention that they beautify our gardens, patios and terraces, brightening our day to day.
But there are other benefits that should be known, and that are just as important as those we have mentioned:
- Produce oxygen. Without this gas, there would be no life, or at least not as we know it.
- They absorb carbon dioxide. Or put another way: they help us fight climate change.
- Prevent erosion. The roots grow downward, fixing the soil and preventing it from being blown away by the wind.
- Some fix nitrogen. Are the legumes. Nitrogen is the most important nutrient for plants as they use it to grow.
- They create microclimatesallowing other beings to be in areas where they would otherwise have problems. For example, who hasn’t been relieved to stand under a large shady tree during an especially hot summer? In addition, in your garden you can have windbreak hedges, thanks to which growing delicate plants will not be so difficult. Learn More.
What do you think of the plants? You have someone?