Plants have been existent in planet Earth before the human beings. They add life to the world in the sense that it gives color and aesthetics and most especially, it provides the humans and animals of their basic needs.
According to Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), there have been more than 400,000 species of plants in the world. They come in different forms, genus, orders, families, and species. Plants are the only organisms in the world that exhibit apical dominance. They grow extensively, forever. They may die and return to the soil, but they always go back to another life form.
Plants are everywhere – even in our homes, hotels, cars, factories, and industries. Despite urbanization, plants still manage to exist in cities. Many people love the view of plants. For them, plants are therapeutic. That is why it is important that we always have a view of plants in our home in form of backyard gardens or orchards.
Common Types of Plants
In the world of science, there are millions of species of plants. But in the broader sense, we see plants as green organisms that have life.
A tree is the most common type of a plant. According to BGCI, there are a total of 60, 065 species of trees. Trees can be classified according to their leaves – the deciduous trees which have leaves lose their green color and turn orange, brown or red and the evergreen trees with leaves evergreen. Trees can also bear fruits, nuts, cones, and flowers.
Shrubs are small to medium-sized woody plants that may grow from 6 to 20 feet tall. Shrubs are very common in parks, gardens, and landscapes. Some of the most common landscaping shrubs are Rose of Sharon, Hydrangeas, Barberry and Boxwood shrubs, among others.
Herbs are leafy plants that are usually used for food, flavoring, and fragrances. Herbs can be perennials, such as lavender and thyme; biennials like parsley; and annuals like basil. On the other hand, herbs are popularly used as medicines. They contain phytochemicals that have effects on the body. Herbal medicine has been long rooted in Chinese tradition.
Vines are plants that are characterized by their crawling kind of growth habit. They are also called creepers because they need a solid support for them to grow. Most vines have tendrils which curl around to firmly hold on structures. Some shrubs turn into vines when their bodies can no longer support them. The most popular form of vines is grapes.
There are more than 12,000 species of grasses. Grasses are plants that lack stem. They have rhizomes or bulb-like structures that are rooted in the soil. Grasses are used in landscaping. Some of the common types of ornamental grasses are Blue Fescue, Mexican Feather grass, Zebra Grass, Japanese Forest grass and Purple Fountain grass.
Apart from these, other types of plants include algae, liverworts, mosses, ferns, horsetails, conifers, cycads and other flowering plants.
Importance of Plants
With all the different forms and appearances of plants, they are undeniably incredible. But what’s more amazing are the benefits that we human can obtain from these plants.
Most of what we eat and consume are plants – fruits, vegetables, crops and even some herbivorous animals that we eat, like goats and cows get their daily dose of nutrients from plants. Human nutrition is dependent on plants. Plants undergo certain natural processes in which they store nutrients and other essentials in forms of seeds, fruits, cereals, leaves, nuts, and roots, among others.
Plants are the largest sources of textile and fabric materials. Cotton is one of the most popular fabrics used for clothing. They are durable, lightweight and breathable. Linen is also made from the fibers of the flax plant, whereas hemp fabrics are made from the stem of Cannabis sativa plants. Fabrics from plants are eco-friendly and are less expensive.
Plants produce herbal products and alternative medicines which are believed to be therapeutic in nature. Ginseng is proven effective for vitality and immunity enhancement. A study suggests that coffee and teas are rich in antioxidants that prevent cancer and other disorders. Besides, bacteria which are classified as plants in taxonomy are used in producing antibiotics and other drugs.
Some plants are found feasible in producing biofuel. Biofuels are made to decrease the world’s consumption to fossil fuels. Biofuels burn cleaner than fossil fuels. They emit lesser pollutants and greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide. Biofuels can be extracted from energy crops such as soybeans, corn, wheat, sugarcane and more.
In farming, synthetic pesticides and insecticides are discouraged. Plants produce natural pesticides that can effectively eliminate pests, insects and other organisms. Humans can also use certain plant extracts to repel mosquitoes and other insects. The most common sources of natural pesticides are neem tree leaves, lemongrass, and more.
Plants play a vital role in the water cycle. They maintain the balance of water on the land and in the atmosphere. They help moving water from the soil through the process called transpiration. Moreover, plants clean air by absorbing carbon dioxide from the water vapor to avoid the acid rain.
Another importance of plants is beauty and aesthetics. They look good in rooms, in the kitchen and anywhere else. They are found in schools, hotels, buildings and other infrastructures. Gardens, landscapes, and orchards, they all use a wide variety of plants to achieve beautiful aesthetics.
Plants are also essential in maintaining the fertility and the quality of the soil. Plants also prevent soil from degrading and eroding. The roots of the plants are essential in holding the soil from sweeping into the bodies of water.
Plants also relieve stress. Some claims that they feel better because of plants. Plants also improve air quality, provide shade and relax sight which can help ease mental fatigue. According to a research, plants are effective in helping surgery patients to recover and to ease the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
Do you find plants amazing? Well, if you do, it’s time for you to bring nature into your home and start living with plants.