A Plea for Plants

Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae, The Green Kingdom. Plants have been around for a very long time. The plants first appeared about 443 million years ago. About 360 million years ago, there were a wide variety of shapes and sizes of plants around, including tiny creeping plants and tall forest trees.

Plants use chlorophyll to capture light energy, which fuels the manufacture of food—sugar, starch, and other carbohydrates. Without these food sources, most life on earth would be impossible.

Another important contribution of plants is their shaping of the environment. Think of a place without plants. It is the plants which produce and maintain the terrestrial environment as we know it.

Although we are surrounded by plants all our lives, most of us never realize just how alien they are. From the way they manufacture their food to the ways in which they respond to the environment, plants are quite different from animals.

Plants provide nourishment for our bodies and souls. With the help of protists and fungi, plants provide the oxygen we breathe and the food that sustains us – either directly or indirectly, by feeding other animals. This is essential for our survival. Plants provide shade over our heads and cool carpets under our feet while surrounding us with beautiful colors and marking the change of seasons.

Plants also provide fibers for clothing, materials for buildings, and chemicals for medicines. The value of these tangible products can be easily appreciated. What is not so well known is that plants also produce a wide range of intangible effects on people. For example, plants calm us, reduce stress, increase pain tolerance, and speed recovery from illnesses. They also improve mental functioning in children and reduce domestic violence. In short, plants make us better, more civil people.