Plants are a basic and elemental part of life on our planet. Without them, nothing could be as we know it, neither for the human being nor for any of the other living beings. Therefore, plants are of great importance on Earth, as they provide everything from oxygen and food to shelter and medicine, among many other benefits.
If you want to learn more about why plants are important , join us in this AgroCorrn article in which we delve into the importance of plants for us, other living beings and ecosystems.
- Importance of plants for living beings
- Importance of plants in the ecosystem
- Importance of plants for humans
- Importance of medicinal plants
Importance of plants for living beings
In summary, we can say that the great importance of plants for living beings is due to:
- Plants are the only autotrophic living beings , capable of transforming the sun’s energy into chemical energy and making organic matter with it . That is, they produce organic matter from totally inorganic sources, this is how plants feed themselves .
- These, in turn, are food for a wide variety of living things, both herbivorous and omnivorous .
- For this reason, plants are responsible for much of the biomass present on the planet: without them, the Earth would be little more than a desert.
- Moreover, without them, we would not even have our oxygen-rich atmosphere. Plants thus produced oxygen as a residue of photosynthesis over a long period of time, so much so as to alter the composition of the atmosphere. Thanks to this, large amounts of oxygen were exposed to the stimulus of ultraviolet rays, which eventually formed the ozone layer . Therefore, simplifying the whole process, they contribute oxygen to the atmosphere . This ozone layer prevented ultraviolet rays from reaching the land and sea with such force, thus allowing both to be colonized by life forms.
Without all these previous steps, the planet would not have met the necessary conditions to support the complex organisms that inhabit it today. The importance of plants for living beings and in today’s environment is vital.
Importance of plants in the ecosystem
There are many functions that plants fulfill in the different ecosystems of the world. As a summary, we can indicate that the great importance of plants in the ecosystem occurs for these reasons:
- They are the base of the trophic pyramid , the beginning of many food or trophic chains, since they are the only ones capable of producing organic matter from sunlight, water and various inorganic materials. This allows herbivorous animals to feed on them, which in turn will be food for predators. Without its base, the pyramid cannot stand. Learn more about this topic with this other article on What are trophic pyramids in ecology .
- The vegetation strengthens the land with its roots, so the plants minimize the effects of erosion and prevent the wind and precipitation from destroying the land.
- In the same way, plants allow organic matter and nutrients to be fixed in the topsoil. Therefore, without them, the rain would wash them down to the rivers and the sea, causing the desertification of the soil .
- They also provide shelter for a multitude of animals , from insects to birds and mammals, just as algae do for many aquatic organisms.
Importance of plants for humans
The human being obtains multiple benefits from plants . Even if we ignore such basic issues as the exchange of oxygen on the planet, without them we would not be able to continue with our current life.
- The first and most basic of these benefits is also the most obvious: food . Approximately 50% of the food that humans currently consume comes from just three species of plants: wheat, rice and corn. Up to that point, they are the basis of our food and culinary culture. If we add to these three species the next nine most consumed species, we obtain the food source of three-quarters of the humans on the entire planet. And even so, today we have around 200 plant species that have been domesticated for our consumption, along with many others that are used in their wild forms.
- In addition, the wood that trees produce continues to be one of the most used materials in the world for a multitude of furniture, structures and tools.
- As if all this were not enough, charcoal has been a basic fuel in many eras, and although it is used much less today, we continue to use it for many things. Even many homes in cold areas still get hot by burning wood.
- Last but not least, the presence of plants has a proven positive effect on people. The green areas and parks give us serenity and relaxation and therefore in many homes people turn to plants to keep direct contact with nature.
Importance of medicinal plants
And what are plants for in addition to everything mentioned? Oddly enough, we have not yet mentioned one of its most important applications: medicine.
About 25% of modern medicines are directly derived from plants. And thanks to traditional medicine, 80% of the people on the planet use medicinal plants to treat their different problems or conditions. In addition, animals also use them as a means to improve their health, beyond food. They know in which situations it is better for them to eat one plant or another (to purge themselves, to detoxify, etc.).
Plants have a large number of substances and compounds that, used properly, can treat all kinds of conditions or strengthen our body in different ways to prepare for attacks by pathogens or accelerated cell degeneration. Therefore, even today, new species or new uses for already known species continue to be studied every day. After all, they are the most important key to life on Earth . Not surprisingly, ours depends on them in so many ways.
Learn more about the importance of medicinal plants with these other AgroCorrn articles about 60 medicinal plants from Peru and what they are for and 50 Mexican medicinal plants and what they are for .
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