What Are 11 Facts About Plants? (Solved & Explained!)

Struck up an interest in learning about plants? Or perhaps you do already know about them, and you simply want to broaden your knowledge?

Plants are amazing – they have evolved over time to adjust to the pressures of human life. But aside from this, they are essential to the planet and all living things on it. Not only do they absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but they are also used in abundance for medical purposes. Unfortunately, 68% of plants are in danger of going extinct. 

In this article, we are going to be discussing 11 of the most fascinating facts about plants. Some of this will be related to history, some geography, and some about the amazing uses and capabilities that plants have.

The smell you get from freshly cut grass is actually a distress call

As much as we love it, other plants certainly do not. When grass is harmed, it releases green leaf volatiles (GLV) which signals to other plants that there is imminent danger nearby. It gives plants a similar warning as humans would receive when our burglar alarm goes off in the middle of the night.

Some figs are not actually vegan

When a wasp nears the end of its life, it will enter an inverted fig to lay its eggs and die shortly after. The wasp is then digested within the fig while the eggs prepare to hatch. The baby wasps are born with pollen already on their bodies. For this reason, some people would not consider figs to be vegan.

Nonetheless, this should not be seen as cruelty. Both the fig and the wasp rely on each other to reproduce. The seemingly odd relationship actually aids the two species in survival.

There are more than 80,000 species of edible plants

Despite this large figure, 90% of the food we eat comes from just 30 plants. Maize, rice, and wheat account for more than half of all the calories we receive from plants. There is little explanation as to why we don’t consider more plants as food crops.

The first carrots were purple rather than orange

The reason for this is arguably political. It is popularly explained as follows; Dutch growers in the 17th century took mutant strains of the original purple carrot and gradually cultivated it into an orange colour as a tribute to William of Orange – the man who led the struggle for Dutch independence.

Although this has been debated as purely fiction, there has been no further evidence of orange carrots appearing anywhere in the world before Holland in the 17th century.

Plants dislike human noise

Human noise causes a ripple effect on plants which can continue for decades, even after the noise has been removed. As an example of the impact this can have, trees may produce fewer seedlings than usual.

Although plants cannot literally hear, they can still detect the environment around them by perceiving light, touch, scent, or even gravity.

Historically, bluebell flowers were used as glue

Due to their toxicity, bluebell flowers have been little used for medical purposes. However, during the Elizabethan period, the sticky sap from its roots was used to glue feathers onto arrows and bind paper to books.

Plants have ways of protecting themselves from predators

Since plants encounter many predators, they have evolved and found ways of protecting themselves. Most of these methods involve venom or poison, such as the nettle leaf. However, others use smells, such as the mustard plant.

Interestingly, some plants can even summon wasps when being eaten by caterpillars. The plants send chemical signals which trigger the wasp’s defence system resulting in them attacking the caterpillars.

The heaviest tree in the world is also the heaviest single organism

There is an entire forest located in Fishlake National Park, Utah, that is made up of one single tree, a quaking aspen. The tree weighs around 6,000,000kg. The organism contains 47,000 genetically identical quaking aspens, all stemming from one single root system.

As we now know, the largest living creature on earth is not a blue whale, but in fact, a tree (technically). The colony is called Pando. It has been cloning itself for more than 80,000 years, which also makes it one of the oldest living creatures in the world.

Banana is an Arabic word for finger

The word ‘banana’ originated from an Arabic word, ‘banan’. In English, this translates to finger. Because of this, an entire bunch of bananas is called a hand. Banana clusters are called a bunch or a stalk. There can be up to 3 to 20 hands in a single stalk.

Nearly all chocolate production relies on midges for pollination

Chocolate is made from cacao trees, which cannot pollinate themselves. Cacao pollination is very problematic, and only about 10% to 20% of cacao is successfully pollinated.

To us, midges may be a pest. But they are also known as one of the most important cacao pollinators worldwide. Some cacao growers will actually adjust the habitat within the orchards to increase the midge population.

The largest living structure on Earth is the Great Barrier Reef

Situated off the northeastern coast of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef stretches for 1,429 miles. The structure is built from millions of tiny organisms called coral polyps. It is so big that it can be seen from outer space.

Final thoughts

As well as the above, there are several other incredible facts about plants. Seeing as there are almost 400,000 different species of plants, it should be no surprise that this article barely even touches the surface.

Plants have been utilised by humans for centuries, whether it be for medical purposes or food. However, we use plants for many other things too that we may not necessarily immediately think of. The list is massive, but includes; furniture, tyres, soaps, textiles, oils, and chemicals.

With this being said, humans aren’t always particularly kind to plants. Because of this, plants have evolved over time and learned how to survive in an ever-changing habitat.