What is a Plant?

Andrew JohnsonNatural Resources, Online Courses Comments

Environmental Monitoring - defining plants

Plants – Not Just a Pretty Petal

Plants – they’re pretty nifty organisms. When you think of plants, you might immediately envision plants such as your mom’s hydrangeas, but this classification of vegetation includes much, much more.

Plants are defined as a living organism that obtains most of its energy from the sunlight via photosynthesis. If you didn’t know – photosynthesis is a process that uses light to change carbon dioxide into sugar/energy.

Examples of plants include trees, plants, shrubs, herbs, grasses, rushes, aquatic plant plants, mosses, liverworts, ferns and seaweeds. But did you know that fungi, lichens, bacteria and coral are not classified as plants?!

Some lichens, liverworts and mosses are technically not plants due to the fact that they do not photosynthesize. That being said, the majority of them do photosynthesize, so they are usually classified accordingly.

Did you know that in B.C. there are 2717 flowering plants, 677 introduced plants, 111 types of ferns, 800 types of mosses, 245 types of liverworts, 4 different hornworts and more than 2000 lichens? Wowza!

Alight, let’s breakdown the basic biology of plants. It’s pretty common knowledge that all plants have leaves of some sort in order for photosynthesis to occur. But did you know that trees produce sexually? The two types of reproduction processes that take place include gymnosperm and angiosperm. Gymnosperms, which refer to cones with naked seeds, are visible in the example of a Spruce tree. Whereas angiosperm are identified as plants that produce fruits and flowers, where angiosperms have distinctive reproductive organs that are actually known to us as flowers.  Seed plants including conifers that have gymnosperms, evolved over 350 million years ago and they have pollen grains that contain male gametes for protection of the sperm during the process of the transfer of pollen from the male to the female parts. Another cool bit of info is the fact that plants actually evolved to use insects to carry the pollen from one plant to the next. Conifers have even further adapted to using wind to spread their pollen.

Betcha didn’t know that much about plants huh? If you did, don’t worry you can get even more information on plants and how cool they are in the Basic Sampling II – Mapping and Vegetation Ecology course included in the UNBC Continuing Studies’ Environmental Monitoring Certificate!