They tolerate metal. They can armor themselves. They go tanning. They recognize night and day. They help feed the world.
They have even been to outer space.
These are just some of the many characteristics that make plants so endlessly fascinating. Today, the European Plant Science Organization is sponsoring the third international Fascination of Plants Day to celebrate all things plant. Here at BMC Plant Biology, we wanted to feature some of the research that highlights how amazing and yes, how fascinating, plants can be.
Plants exist in the natural world and thus have to deal with a wide variety of environmental conditions. Spectacularly, plants have evolved clever mechanisms of handling these stresses, whether they face drought, salt, heat, cold or even arsenic. Not only that, but some plants have the ability to combat stress in the long term, exhibiting stress memory. The quantity, variety and ingenuity of these defense mechanisms are truly amazing.
There are other intriguing characteristics of plants. Did you know that they are capable of regeneration ? Or that they can have not two but three parents? They can even be hermaphrodites. Additionally, plants are responsible for fixing nitrogen from our atmosphere and some are extremely fast growing.
Plants and us
As omnivores, we have a long history with plants as part of our diet. Whether sweet or spicy, they are often delicious. There are amazingly complex biochemistries that produce the compounds that make up these foods, whether seed, leaf or fruit, and we get to reap the benefits.
On the other hand, the very fascinating process of plant reproduction that is highly adapted and employs pollen can lead to lots of itchy red eyes and sneezing for those who suffer from allergies.
Interestingly, plant ancestry and the fact that domesticated crops were once wild can give us insights into adaptation and evolution. Plants even have the ability to teach us things about geography.
Of course, don’t forget about these great examples:
There are so many plants and things about plants that are fascinating! Do some exploring and I promise that you will appreciate the beauty and wonder of plants as well.