Unusual Plant Facts
Plants can easily be called Mother Earth’s gift to living beings. They help us breathe; provide food, shelter, fuel, and everything essential for the sustenance of life. While you might be aware plants, through the process of photosynthesis, make their own food by taking in carbon dioxide and giving out oxygen, did you also know plants also breathe in oxygen, just like us, to respire. Also, an acre of trees could remove 13 tons of polluting dust and gases from its surroundings.
Here are some more unusual facts about plants that you might not know.
Plants and Animals
A plant is generally distinguished from an animal by its ability to manufacture its own food. Perennial plants are those that can live forever if the conditions are right and unlike animals they do not have a definite life span.
Most of the earth is water and almost 85 percent of the plants on earth are growing inside water bodies like seas and oceans. The makeup of all living organisms, including humans and plants, is such that we have more water in our body than solid tissues. In fact, a raw apple contains 86 percent water while a raw cucumber is made up of 97 percent water.
Name of the Red Sea
The Red Sea derives its name from a primitive plant in its water that has a red pigment in its cell. If these are gathered together in millions, they give a definite red tinge to the water.
There are an estimated 100,000 tree species in the world with 25 percent of the plant kingdom made up of trees.
An interesting fact is a notch in a tree remains the same distance from the ground as the tree grows. If you hammer a nail in a tree limb at about 5 meters (16 feet) from the ground, and come back after a year, you find that the tree has grown to 10 meters (32.81 feet), but the nail is still at 5 meters. The reason is simple. Trees grow in height as a result of cells located in their branch tips, known as the terminal buds, and therefore, only the tip of these branches grow, unlike animals where growth cells are located in all parts of the body. Hence, a limb at a particular height of the tree will always remain at that height.
All about Colors
While green is nature’s favorite color, black is probably not, as there are no plants that give a black colored blossom or flower. The flowers that are called black, like the rose, lilies, and so forth, are actually very dark shades of purple, maroon, or burgundy. Even hybridization efforts have not resulted in a truly black flower.
Plants have specific colored flowers for specific kinds of pollination help. Plants pollinated by moths generally produce white colored flowers that are easily seen at night, while plants pollinated by bees and butterflies produce more brightly colored orange, blue, yellow, and red flowers.
Some might be interested to know why the leaves of deciduous trees keep changing colors all year round. Actually, the leaves have many color pigments inside them apart from the prominent green. In summer and spring, because the chlorophyll responsible for green color is actively making food, the color becomes most visible. In the fall, however, the sunlight is not sufficient and the process of making food slows down. It is during this time that other colors like orange and red take over.
Leonardo da Vinci & Botany
He might be famous for his painting of Mona Lisa, but Leonardo da Vinci was an avid scientist and a botanist as well. He made many precise drawings of flowering plants that gave specific details about their shape and size. He also believed, "All the branches of a tree at every stage of its height when put together are equal in thickness to the trunk (below them)."
Not all evergreen trees are actually green. The needles of conifers do fall off and are replaced by other needles, but the process takes place continuously, and it gives the appearance that the tree is permanently green.
The shape of the evergreen conifers have a definite purpose. The triangular shape not only helps less snow gather on the tree during cold winters, it also allows leaves to get exposed to maximum sunlight and use as the light to make food.
Largest, Tallest, Oldest, Heaviest
The California redwood – Coast Redwood and Giant Sequoia – are the tallest and largest living plants in the world.
The grand old tree of bristlecone pine, located in the White Mountains of California, has the distinction of being the oldest living thing. It is presumed to be 4,600 years old.
The largest flowers are popularly known as the corpse flower, or Rafflesia, with a diameter of 3 feet.
The single seeded fruit of the giant fan palm, or Lodoicea maldivica, found wild in the Seychelle islands, can weigh 44 pounds.
Orchids with their beautiful flowers have the tiniest of seeds with 1.25 million seeds weighing just one gram.
The world’s tallest grass is bamboo.
These are some of the unusual and interesting facts about plants.
Quote of Leonardo da Vinci taken from The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci Dover, 1970
matze_ott via cc/Flickr