What is a Plant? All About Plants for Kids – FreeSchool

What is a Plant? All About Plants for Kids – FreeSchool

October 3, 2019 21 By Ewald Bahringer


You’re watching FreeSchool! Plants are living organisms. They come in many different shapes, sizes,
and colors, but they all need air, water, nutrients, and sunlight to live. Plants cover much of our planet. Every blade of grass, tree, flower, bush,
fern, or moss you see is a plant. Large or small, on the land, or in the sea,
from forests to deserts, plants are almost everywhere! Plants are so important to life on earth that
without them, we could not survive. Plants create food from the sun’s energy,
and form the foundation of nearly every food chain on the planet. Plants produce the oxygen in the air we breathe,
helping animals to stay alive. Plants also create important habitats where
animals can live, and provide humans with many natural resources. So what makes something a plant? Plants are special on the cellular level. They are always made of more than one cell
– meaning there are no single celled plants – and their cells have specal parts. One special part of a plant cell is the cell
wall. Cell walls are rigid and unbending. Since plants do not have skeletons, these
cell walls give them their structure. Without cell walls, tall trees, cactus and
even little flowers would not be able to stand up! Many plants are easy to recognize by their
green leaves – in fact, most plants are green, or have green parts. This green color is caused by another special
part of their cells called chloroplasts. Chloroplasts contain chlorophyll, which is
green. Chlorophyll is what allows plants to carry
out photosynthesis and make food from the sun’s energy. During photosynthesis, plants use the sun’s
energy to change water and carbon dioxide into a kind of sugar. They use this sugar to grow and develop, and
store the extra in their leaves, roots, or fruits. In addition to sugar, plants produce oxygen
during photosynthesis. Since plants do not need the oxygen, they
release it into the atmosphere, where animls and people can breathe it in! Plants cannot move the same way that people
or other animals do, so they have to have special strategies to solve their problems. For example, some plants cannot get enough
nutrients from the soil they are growing in. The plants of eastern North American bogs
have adapted to their nutrient-poor soils by getting extra nutrition from an unusual
source – insects. One of these carnivorous plants, the sundew,
has sticky fluid coating special hairs. This fluid has a sweet smell that attracts
insects. When an insect lands on the hair, however,
it becomes stuck – trapped by the plant – and the fluid digests the prey, breaking it down
into nutrients. Another kind of carnivorous plant is the pitcher
plant. The ‘pitcher’ of the plant is a modified leaf
that is watertight. The plant fills it with a combination of nectar
and digestive juices. The smell of the nectar and colors at the
edge of the pitcher attract insects and other small visitors, but once inside the prey find
it too slippery to get out again and will fall into the pool at the bottom of the pitcher,
where they are digested. The most famous carnivorous plant is the Venus
Flytrap. It has specialized leaves that act like the
mouth of the plant. Like the other carnivorous plants, its bait
is sweetened nectar. Once prey climb onto the leaf, they activate
the trigger hairs which signal the plant to close its trap. Long guard hairs interlock across the top
of the leaves, preventing escape, and the prey is slowly digested. Unlike carnivorous plants, which are predators,
most plants are prey for herbivores. They have developed strategies to help protect
them from being eaten. One popular strategy plants like to use is
to grow thorns, spines, or prickles. The cactus is famous for its sharp spines. Most cacti live in the desert, where water
is a scarce and precious resource. Cacti store water in their thick, waxy stems. To prevent animals from consuming their carefully
collected resources, they grow sharp spines which deter all but the hungriest – or most
cautious – of animals. A plant with another interesting defense is
the sensitive plant. When its leaves are touched, they close up. This makes the leaves look dead, or wilted,
and may send a hungry herbivore searching for a more tasty-looking lunch. Finally, a popular plant defense strategy
is to use chemicals to protect themselves. Some plants just use chemicals to give their
leaves a bitter taste. Other plants have chemicals on them that can
make us itchy! Still other plants are poisonous, making animals
that eat them get sick or even die. Animals learn not to eat these poisonous plants
and the plants can then grow undisturbed. One more problem that plants have to solve
is the problem of how to get their seeds away from them. Plants do not want their seeds to grow right
next to them, because then they would be competing for the same resources. Some plants use the wind to spread their seeds. Some plants that live near water have seeds
that can float, and let the water carry their seeds away. A popular method plants use to spread their
seeds is to have animals carry them away. Some seeds, called burs, grow with hooks on
their outsides. These hooks get caught on the fur of passing
animals and are carried away to new areas. Other plants grow their seeds inside fruits
or berries. Animals eat the fruit and it is digested,
but the seeds pass through unharmed and are dropped far away from the parent plant. Still other seeds, like acorns, are collected
by animals that bury them. Not all of these buried seeds get eaten, leaving
some to grow into new trees. Some plants, however, take matters into their
own hands – or seed pods, that is. When touched or tapped, the fruit of the exploding
cucumber splits open forcefully, spreading its seeds in one burst. On the land or in the sea, plants play a critical
role in in the continuation of life on earth. They make their own food from sunlight, converting
it to food that animals can use. Plants produce oxygen for us to breathe and
habitats for animals to live in. No matter where they grow, or what challenges
they face, plants have learned how to get enough nutrients, protect themselves from
hungry animals, and spread their seeds around. Plants are incredible! I hope this helped you learn more about plants
today. Goodbye till next time!