The Secret Life of Plants
Plants are crucial to our existence on this planet, providing food and oxygen to humans and animals. To provide us with these necessities they need to complete the process of photosynthesis to ensure they can keep themselves functioning properly. In this article we will take a look at what keeps scientists so interested in plants and discuss some of the need-to-know plants facts.
How does photosynthesis work in plants?
Plants need enough energy to keep themselves alive. They do this by removing carbon dioxide from the surrounding atmosphere and water from the soil, and absorbing sunlight through the chlorophyll which what makes plant leaves green.
Why do plants grow towards sunlight?
Leaves absorb the sunlight through the chloroplast cells that contain chlorophyll, which is used as a catalyst for the reaction between carbon dioxide and water to create glucose and oxygen. The plant wants to get as much sunlight to reach the surface area of the leaves as possible, so they always change the position of their leaves throughout the day as the sun’s position changes.
But how does the plant know where the sunlight is? An auxin is a plant growth hormone that is typically spread throughout the plant, but when the sunlight hits a particular part of the leaf, the auxin is broken down which triggers plant cells on the sunnier side to grow more so it bends towards the light.
The process of leaves growing towards the sunlight is called phototropism.
Why do deciduous plants drop their leaves?
A deciduous plant is one which drops its leaves annually and they lose their leaves to conserve water and survive the winter conditions better. Losing their leaves also allows them to protect themselves from insect damage throughout the winter.
Why do flowers smell?
Flowers give off complex scent mixtures to attract pollinators, such as bees, to their flowers so they can spread their pollen and the plant can be reproduced.
How do plants get nutrients from the soil?
Plants have complex root systems which help to hold the plant firmly in the ground and these roots have hairs, which absorb water and minerals from the soil which aid photosynthesis. Nutrients are absorbed through osmosis, as there are fewer nutrients inside the root, then water and nutrients are drawn up the xylem vessels via transpiration to where it’s needed for photosynthesis. For a plant to be able to fully photosynthesize they also need plentiful sunlight and carbon dioxide to help them produce chlorophyll – which feeds the plant – allowing it to grow.
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