Plants are all around us – and we owe them a lot! We provide them with carbon dioxide, and they provide us with oxygen. It’s a two-way street! Therefore, the wild and wonderful world of plants is one which certainly demands our respect.
There’s actually likely to be more about plants in terms of facts and figures than you might expect. That, of course, is why we’re here – to help clue you in on everything you need to know about our green, leafy friends! Got green fingers? Time to clue up with these interesting facts about plant life…
1. There are many plants we don’t eat.
Believe it or not, only around 30 different plants make up 90% of our diet. It’s truly bizarre – given that there are thousands upon thousands of plants out there for the eating! Of course, some are poisonous – probably best to leave those alone!
2. We use many, many more for medicine.
However, around 70,000 plants are used for medicinal purpose. This practice goes back centuries when apothecaries would traditionally crush plants and leaves to produce medicine.
3. We are a long way from finding all the plants on the planet.
Up to 85% of all plant life can be found in the ocean – much of it is still likely undiscovered.
4. Tastes like oxygen!
25% of an apple is, bizarrely, air.
Similarly, a cabbage is mostly water. That’s to the extent that only 9% of it isn’t water!
5. Bamboo can grow while you watch it.
The fastest-growing plant in the world is bamboo. It’s said to be able to grow up to 35 inches per day – meaning if you look carefully, you might be able to see it stretching up and out!
6. The strawberry doesn’t protect its seeds.
Only one fruit grows its seeds on the outside – the juicy strawberry, which offers around 200 seeds per fruit.
7. Bluebells used to help us stick together!
People used to use bluebell produce, or juice, to make glue.
8. We’ve destroyed all but one fifth of the world’s forests.
Sadly, around 80% of the forests that once grew on Earth have been felled. While there are movements to try and replace as much rainforest as possible, it’s safe to say that greenery all over the globe has fallen prey to human harvesting.
9. Only 32% of plant life is likely to continue thriving.
In fact, it’s thought that up to 68% of all plant species on Earth might be set to go extinct in the near future. There are still plants out there up for discovery. However, those we know about, are under threat.
10. Tulips nearly destroyed the Dutch economy.
The Netherlands is famous for its tulip fields. In fact, tulip plants were once so precious in Holland that people sought them and traded them along the same lines as gold. Believe it or not, the Dutch thirst for tulips actually led to its economy crashing – though you can, of course, still see field upon field of tulips growing across the country to this day.
11. Tulips can creep up on you!
Tulips, too, are super-fast growers. If you trim a tulip, it might grow up to an inch per day. That’s speedy for everyday plants!
12. The potato has been a staple food for centuries.
Potatoes were brought to the UK by Sir Walter Raleigh; however, it’s thought that people have been growing potato plants and enjoying the produce for more than seven millennia.
13. Oaks need to take their time.
Oak trees will take a long time to start producing their own fruit, or acorns. The average acorn-producing oak is around 50 years of age when it starts sprouting!
14. Never ask a tree its age!
There is, of course, a way for you to tell how old a tree is by counting its inner rings. This is a process that people call dendrochronology.
15. Onion crying is more than just a cliche.
Ever cut an onion and cried? You’re not getting sentimental – it’s to do with the level of sulphuric acid present.
16. Take your pick!
There are more than 80,000 plant species worldwide which are safe to eat. This, coupled with our fact about the number of species we actually eat, is stunning.
17. Trees will outlive everything.
Trees live longer than any other known organism on the planet – they can live for hundreds of years, depending on the species.
In fact, some tree species have been around since prehistoric times. It’s thought that the Ginkgo tree predates us massively – it’s been around for more than 250 million years. Perhaps it’s time we started respecting our elders?
The oak tree is, bizarrely, more at risk to get hit by lightning than any other plant or tree.
19. Without orchids, would we have ice cream?
Ever wondered where vanilla comes from? It sprouts from orchids, in the form of pods which are corn-like.
FAQs about plant life
Can plants move?
Short of growing, or those that snap shut to catch prey, no - plants are static organisms.
Can plants feel pain?
No - they don’t have nervous systems, meaning they don’t feel any pain - or anything at all, in fact.
Can plants hear you talk?
While plants can’t understand what you say, believe it or not, they can respond positively to human voices.
Do you know any fun facts about plant life? Share them in the comments below!