Plants are just as much, if not more a part of this existence on Earth as we are. Before any animals were even able to walk on land, there were plants that were growing in the soil. Our history as beings on this planet has grown right alongside plants, and it can be argued, that we are at this point today primarily due to plants.
The first type of plant that we know of that formed on this Earth were algal mats. Most of you know this as basically that green goop found in oceans and lakes. It formed over a billion years ago. This possibly developed into the types of plants that we know today that perform photosynthesis. Once plants started to show up on land, they essentially took over the planet.
The ideas introduced of how plants came to be and how they took over the planet were started by the conversations and topics that Frederick Orpen Bower covered in his book from the early 1900’s titled “The Origin of a Land Flora.” From there, the willingness to learn about plants at a grand scale began to arise in our modern era.
While we are continuing our research of how plants came to be as well as learning about how they can be used, we don’t have to look too far away from our culture. All animal species on this planet rely on plants in some way or another. Whether it be using the oxygen produced by plants, using them as shelter, using them for food, or eating other animals that use plants for food, their importance to the way of life is unparalleled.
Our human ancestors grew in unity with plants. Part of what made us distinctly human and accelerated our progression towards becoming the fully functioning home sapiens that we are today could not have occurred without utilizing plants any chance we got. Our animal ancestor used plants for tools, burned them for fires, ate them for food, and planted and farmed them for food that they planned for their future. Depending on who you listen to, you might even hear about how certain types of plants caused us to become who we are today.
Plants end up producing just about all of the food that all animals eat today. Whether that be directly or indirectly, all animals will eventually eat plants or another animal that eats or uses plants. Our human diet consists of direct and indirect eating of plants. Much of our food derives from eating vegetables and fruits.
Vegetables are composed of vitamins, minerals, and fibers which our bodies love! Fruits give us sugar and they certainly taste much better than vegetables. Nuts and seeds also grow off of plants, and they contain proteins, fats, and other nutritional values which can be essential for our diets.
Other than food, plants are utilized for many areas of our lifestyle. They are used as oils, dyes, wax, structures, healthy exterior body products, fuels, clothing, and, more noticeably important in our society than those of the past, chemical values.
Certain species of plants can have tremendous medicinal, psychological, and physiological effects on humans. They have the ability to cure sickness and diseases, sooth the human experience, relax, entertain our minds, and poison others. The chemical effects of plants are what we will dive into most in this blog.
Plants are also used for our own personal happiness and entertainment. There are industries for people to explore plant environments. National parks, rain forests, huge gardens, these are all types of areas where plants are the main attraction. Gardens and potted plants are often present in many civilized societies where people not only use plants for food, but even purely for aesthetic reasons. It seems the nature and presence of plants can relax people. It’s probably part of our innate thinking that makes us want to be with the plants more than we want to be sitting at a desk.
There are also bad plants that people will try to kill and control and can negatively affect other species. Weeds are one of the big problems our human society faces. Weeds are the garden, farm, and park killers that we are continually fighting. Pollens can affect allergic reactions to animals. Some plants are poisonous. Some can cause skin problems. Some can greatly effect the body when ingested through smoking.
There are many different uses for plants. Some uses that we utilize, some that we take for granted, and even some that society says, we can’t have. Nonetheless, it doesn’t seem like plants are going anywhere, and most human societies continue to remain in close association with plants.