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For the Love of Plants

For the Love of Plants

Photo Credit: Vintage; PBS-Time Team American

After attending a recent Botany lecture from Dr. Sams, retired UT professor, I started thinking about how complex and interesting the plant world can truly be. Why are plants so important? Yes, they beautify our surroundings but they do so much more! Plants replenish the oxygen supply, prevent soil erosion, cool the atmosphere, provide wildlife habitat, and serve as a primary food source.

Some plants are monocots while others are dicots. Monocots have one seed leaf. The leaves often have parallel-veins and the flowers parts are usually found in groups of three or multiples of three. Dicots have two seed leaves. The leaves usually have net-veins and the flower parts can be found in clusters of four or five or multiples thereof.

Let’s talk a little about plant life cycles. Annuals complete their life cycle in one year of one growing season (i.e. pansies). Biennials complete their life cycle in two years, typically dying after flowering in their second year (i.e. foxgloves). Perennials live more than two years. They can be either herbaceous or woody (i.e. the daylily).

Now we can cover external plant parts. Organs are a group of tissue that work together to perform a specific function. They are classified into two broad types; they are either Vegetative (roots, stems, leaves) or reproductive (flowers, fruits and seeds).

Now to leaves. The primary functions of leaves are to capture energy from the sun and convert it to sugars (photosynthesis) for later use. Leaves are green because they contain chlorophyll (green pigment). They are also broad enough to intercept a maximum amount of sunlight.

Lastly, we can’t forget about the plant roots. The main functions of plant roots are to anchor the plant in the soil, absorb water and mineral nutrients, and support the stem and store food. There are two types of roots: taproot and fibrous.

Plants are simply amazing! There is so much more to say about plants but I will leave that for another time. As you can see, I really enjoyed that botany lesson! I always pick up something new.

Until next time, stay warm!

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