The Importance of Plants
The importance of plants to humans and just about all other life on Earth is staggering. Life as we know it would not be possible without plants.
- Plants supply food to nearly all terrestrial organisms, including humans. We eat either plants or other organisms that eat plants.
- Plants maintain the atmosphere. They produce oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis. Oxygen is essential for cellular respiration for all aerobic organisms. It also maintains the ozone layer that helps protect Earth’s life from damaging UV radiation. Removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere reduces the greenhouse effect and global warming.
- Plants recycle matter in biogeochemical cycles. For example, through transpiration, plants move enormous amounts of water from the soil to the atmosphere. Plants such as peas host bacteria that fix nitrogen. This makes nitrogen available to all plants, which pass it on to consumers.
- Plants provide many products for human use, such as firewood, timber, fibers, medicines, dyes, pesticides, oils, and rubber.
- Plants create habitats for many organisms.
- photosynthesis: Process of using the energy in sunlight to make food (glucose).
- pollen: Tiny grains that bear the male gametes of seed plants and transfer sperm to female reproductive structures.
- transpiration: Process in which plants give off water vapor from photosynthesis through tiny pores, called stomata, in their leaves.
- fix nitrogen. This makes nitrogen available to all plants, which pass it on to consumers.
- Life as we know it would not be possible without plants.