Plants form the basic food staple for all forms of life. This is just one reason why plants are important! They are the major source of oxygen and food on earth since no animal is able to supply the components necessary without plants.
Plants are used as state and national emblems as well, including state flowers and state trees. Trees from ancient times are famous and are revered. Plants hold world records as well. Often, plants are prominent figures in literature, religion and mythology
Plants also provide animals with shelter, produce clothing material, medicines, paper products, reduce noise levels and wind speed, reduce water runoff and soil erosion. Coal is also produced from plant materials that were once alive.
Cash crops produce income for farmers. Peanut oil comes from peanuts, corn oil comes from corn and olive oil comes from olive. Cash crops also include typical products of agriculture like rice, rye, wheat and corn. Cocoa plants give us chocolate, coffee plants produce coffee and vanilla plants produce vanilla flavoring.
Many beverages and drinks like tea and cola come from plants. Other cash crops include cotton, vegetables, fruit, lumber and rubber from trees. For overall ecology, plants are also important. The roots prevent soil erosion and when plants undergo photosynthesis, they use up carbon dioxide and give off oxygen.
Plants are Food
Either indirectly or directly, human nutrition is dependent on plants. Throughout the history of human beings, about seven thousand various species of plants have been used as food for humans. To a large extent, human nutrition depends on corn or maize, rice, wheat and other cereals.
We obtain sugar from sugar beet and sugar cane and from flowers comes honey. From olives, sunflowers, safflowers, rapeseed and soybean comes margarine and cooking oils. Additives in food include pectin, starch, locust bean gum, guar gum and gum Arabic.
Animals of livestock which are all herbivores include camels, goats, sheep, pigs and cows and most manly feed on grasses and cereal plants. Brewer’s yeast and other fungi provide human beings with numerous beverages and foods including staples like beer and bread.
Plants Provide Air and Regulate the Water Cycle
Plants bring you oxygen which is a by-product of photosynthesis. Carbon is also stored by plants and they help in keeping a lot of the produced carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels out into the earth’s atmosphere. The water cycle is also regulated by plants. They help in purifying and distributing the water of the planet. They also help in moving water from the soil to the atmosphere through a method called ‘transpiration.’
For aesthetic purposes, thousands of species of plants are cultivated. In addition, plants can help prevent soil erosion, provide privacy, abate noise, reduce wind, modify temperatures and provide shade. Often, people cut dried flowers to frame, and display house plants in greenhouses or indoors.
In gardens, ground cover plants, herbaceous perennials, vines, shrubs, ornamental trees, shade trees, lawn grasses and outdoor gardens are planted. Often, in textiles, photography, language, humor, architecture and art, images of plants are used often.
Each year, plants are the reason for the existence of a multi-billion dollar per year industry of tourism which includes traveling to forests, rainforests, tulip festivals, national parks, historic gardens, botanical gardens and arboretums. In the National Cherry Blossom Festival, there are forests filled with colorful leaves of autumn. Plants that are sold as novelties include the resurrection plant, sensitive plant and the Venus flytrap.
Plants Are Used for Natural Products
It is from plants that you get natural products that include cork, amber, alkaloids, resins, gums, latex, tannins, waxes, pigments, natural dyes, essential oils and fibers. Other products also include hemp rope, chewing gum, inks, plastics, linoleum, lubricants, varnish, rubber, turpentine, cosmetics, perfumes, shampoos, paints and soaps.
Cotton is made from cellulose-derived synthetic fibers like acetate and rayon as well as rame, flax and cotton. From plants, renewable fuel comes as well including biofuels like peat and firewood. From plants, you can derive fossil fuel like petroleum and coal.
Aside from its other myriad uses, the backbone of all habitats is also made up from plants. Other species of wildlife and fish also depend on plants for shelter and food. Wood is used for sports equipment, musical instruments, cardboard, paper, furniture and buildings.
One fourth of the drugs that are prescribed is derivatives of or come directly from plants. In addition, 4 out of 5 people around the globe at the moment rely on plants for primary healthcare. Medicines derived from plants include vincristine, digitalis, colchicine, reserpine, quinine, morphine, taxol and aspirin. There are also herbal supplements by the hundreds such as Saint John’s wort, feverfew, Echinacea and ginkgo.
Plants are also important in the search for cancer drugs. Current therapeutics of cancer include paclitaxel, isolated from the Chinese happy tree Camptothecin. It is also derived from the South African willow and the Himalayas and eastern US etoposide. There has been a long history for the search of anti-cancer drugs from plants and other natural sources.
Plants can be a part of natural approaches to chronic conditions like obesity, heart disease and cancer.
Plants Relieve Stress
To our living spaces, plants bring natural beauty. By creating balance and texture, a patio or room can be transformed instantly into a welcoming, comfortable environment. Just like beauty pageant queens, however, plants can do so much more than just look beautiful. They clean the air we breathe by acting as oxygen factories and absorbing toxins.
They are also proven for reducing stress. Generally, plants simply make people feel better. By improving air quality and easing mental fatigue, plants manage to find themselves an indispensable part of life at home. Plants reduce stress-related muscle tension, lower blood pressure and calm the heart rate. No matter where they are located, you will find that plants are full of countless benefits.
Plants also help us focus and relax, leading to increased capabilities of solving problems, idea generation, creativity and increased productivity. Plants also help surgery-recovering patients and ease Alzheimer’s symptoms. As a matter of fact, the existence of plants is so significant that they have even been shown to relieve the experienced symptoms of children with ADD.
At this point it is clear that our ancestors were on to something and that plants are so much more than just ornamental. We are deeply connected to plants on some level that just living with them in our home brings us repose and health.
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