Today is Fascination of Plants Day. A day plant lovers all over the world get together to celebrate how amazing plants are. Today is a great day to learn more about plants and just how much they are involved in our day-to-day lives on planet Earth. Below I have included some information about the many roles and uses plants have in our lives. It is my hope that all who read this will leave with a newfound appreciation for plants.
We live in an age where if you are living in a first world country you generally have it very easy when it comes to access to food. Provided you can afford it, there is a huge range of food available. Plants provide so much food for us, from fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds to herbs and spices we use in cooking. Without plants we would have no access to these delicious and nutritious foods.
Whether you take medicine bought from the pharmacist or you choose to take a more herbal approach. Pharmaceutical and herbal medicine is derived from plants. There are still so many species of plants yet to be discovered which may hold the key to curing many diseases, but these species are being lost due to habitat destruction in the name of corporate profit.
Wood, cork and fibre are all plant materials which are used in the construction and creation of so many items we humans use on a daily basis. Whether that be furniture, clothing, tools or buildings, the list goes on and on. While in the heavily developed parts of the world heavy machinery and factories are used for the harvesting and processing of these materials, there are tribes in the world today that co-exist with nature in forests and jungles who harvest the materials by hand or with tools they have made themselves from the plants of their home.
For centuries humans have used plant matter as fuel, whether it be a small scale campfire fueled by wood or on a large scale to provide power. Research is going into other forms of plant matter being use as fuel, such as grasses, waste plant material, plant oils, hemp or high sugar crops, which are collected referred to as biofuels.
When looking at plants and thinking how important they are for the planet, many people get wrapped up in their usefulness to humans, but they are invaluable for all other life on Earth. Plants are so adaptable they have found ways to live in most areas of the world and other life has become dependant on them in order to survive. Both animals and fungi have developed symbiotic relationships with plants over millennia so now they are co-dependant in order to thrive in the ecosystems they inhabit. This doesn’t just apply to wild places but also to our gardens. They can provide food and habitat for mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects and other wildlife.
It is often said that the forests are the lungs of the earth and that is a great analogy. Plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen which we then inhale in order to survive. But it is not only the forests that are do this, all plants help keep our atmosphere in balance, including to a larger extent, the algae in our oceans. If we had no plants left on the planet, the atmosphere would change drastically as the balance in gases shifted, resulting in Earth being unable to support life as we know it. Even houseplants can help improve air quality, albeit in your home or office.
Phytoremediation is the use of plants to clean up toxic environments. Plants grown for this purpose can help clean up a variety of different contaminants including pesticides, explosives, metals and oil. The plants also help rain, wind and groundwater flow from carrying the contaminants to surrounding sites or further underground. Certain plants have the ability to break down or remove toxic chemicals from the ground in when their roots take in nutrients and water from the contaminated area, whether that be soil, sediment or groundwater. For more information about how phytoremediation works view the full sized image of “forms of phytoremediation” or go to Urban Omnibus.
After reading this blog hopefully you may have learned something new about plants or found a new appreciation for all they provide for us. For the next 4 days people around the globe are showing their appreciation for plants by hosting events where people can learn more about how important and useful plants are. Some venues are hosting all day events, while other people are streaming tours of laboratories or talks about various plant topics, from the horticultural to the scientific, there is something for everyone who has some form of appreciation for plants. Why not take part in #BotanyLive! by viewing some of the various talks on offer or attending an event near you.