Cats may rule the Internet,
but plants support them and all other animals.
Cats and dogs eat animals that eat plants.
There’s that food chain with plants as the base.
And wild animals make plants their habitat.
So many plant businesses, plant scientists, plant professionals, plant lovers and plant connected people lead the way to promote plants. Their hard work and plant shout-outs make plants an answer for Earth sustainability.
Places on Earth are defined by their plants. Climate is the pattern of temperature and precipitation over time. Plants adapt to their climate regions, and the animals that survive there rely on the plants. Plants attract us to visit and travel to these places where we can see swaying palm trees, magnificent Redwoods, prickly cactuses, uplifting prairies…
Glance at the Earth from outer space and you’ll see the land defined by plants in their unique biomes. Green palates, browns and yellow show the richness or sparsity of Earth’s plants worldwide.
Meet the Animals
Slow and sleepy sloths live in trees in Central and South America rainforests.
Their adaptation and plant connection is their green fur, camouflaging them from predators in the green, green forest.
Sloths are champions in plant connection – diet, habitat, waste recycler all in a one able bodied ecosystem.
The green color is from algae - Trichophilus welckeri. Disclaimer - Trichophilus welckeri algae is actually from the Protista Kingdom, not the Plant Kingdom, but it photosynthesizes with the green pigment chlorophyll as plants do.
Sloths eat the algae from their fur. Sloth fur also contains insects. When sloths go to the forest floor to poop once a week, moths jump off of the sloth’s fur and into the sloth poop where they lay their eggs.
Hay is for horses. How does such a big, muscular powerful animal get enough calories from its vegan diet?
It’s their insanely efficient digestive system that breaks down the hay polysaccharides, the carbohydrates that make up the cell walls of the grass and hay they eat. Polysaccharides get demolished into monosaccharides, that smaller carb, that feed the horse.
These soulful herbivores eat a massive amount of plants. Elephants will eat all plant organs – stems, roots, seeds, flowers, fruits and leaves.
Adult elephants can eat about 200 – 600 pounds a day.
Conflicts between elephants and humans happen when they invade human farms and gardens in search of plants to eat. Increasing human populations means more land is used and fewer plants are available. Survival put elephants and humans at odds. Solutions are needed to respect the land needs of hungry elephants and hungry people.
Meet the People
Diplomacy with plants
Botanist and Plant explorer
propagated and promoted the cherry trees you see in Washington, DC – these are the famous blooms visited every year.
Photo from the National Agricultural Library, Special Collections, Archival Materials, United States Department of Agriculture.
Roland Jefferson worked at the United States Arboretum for the United States Department of Agriculture. He grew, researched and published studies on cherry trees. Working closely with Japan, Roland led Japanese and American cross cultural cherry tree initiatives. Jefferson was the first African American botanist to work at the National Arboretum.
"Pay attention to plants - they are the foundation for understanding other environmental patterns and problems".
Teaching college students made Plant Biologist Rebecca Panko realize that if there is no green space around people, this makes plant blindness worse. Botanists Wandersee and Schussler defined plant blindness ( See ) as ‘“the inability to see or notice the plants in one's own environment, leading to the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere and in human affairs.” She’s seen her student’s lives change as they become plant aware.
Rutgers University Dept. of Biological Sciences, Newark.
When people see plants as living organisms they live with, their eyes can open to their presence and importance.
When she was little, Rebecca lived under the shadow of the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island where her parents worked for the National Park Service. They moved to the Everglades National Park, where Rebecca looked closely at plants, and now sees the Everglades as “a perfect petri dish for invasive species”.
It’s Shepard’s Purse that gets Rebecca’s attention now. She’s doing urban field research on this remarkable species. Shepard’s Purse, Capsella bursa-pastoris, is found globally and in urban areas. It is considered a weed, food, and even as an herbal medicine. But mostly, it’s a survivor in harsh city conditions in part because it reproduces easily.
Shepard’s Purse self-pollinates – meaning the plant has sex with itself in order to make seed babies. These seeds are semi-carnivorous. Their sticky mucous traps small insects and the Shepard’s Purse uses them for a nitrogen boost.
Rebecca's research seeks to answer these plant provoking questions:
What characteristic of urban areas drives plant survival?
How does evolution of plants occur in in densely populated areas?
How might salt, cement, heavy metals and dog poop alter the growth of Shepard’s Purse?
Glance at the Earth from outer space and you’ll see the land defined by plants in their unique biomes.
A palette of greens, browns and yellows show the richness or sparsity of Earth’s plants worldwide.
Do you have a travel bucket list? Here’s another way to make that list – visit these countries that have plants on their flags:
Canada's flag is graced with the Maple tree leaf.
Mexico's flag features prickly pear cactus and oak and laurel trees.
Belize's flag displays the Mahogany tree.
Haiti's flag grows a palm tree.
Award-winning Global Teachers Celebrate Plants
Jose Maria Velasco, Mexican painter, said
"Nature can be a symbol of national identity".
Travel to plants in the world with the renowned Varkey Teacher Ambassadors. The VTAs are finalists for the million dollar Global Teacher Prize. They prepare their students to be global citizens. Here are meaningful plants from their country:
Botanical Gardens are like plant zoos. Unlike animals, the plants don’t move around so you can always see them.
I crave Botanical Gardens. They’re one of my favorite plant places. You can find them worldwide, featuring plants you may have never seen before. Many have indoor greenhouses (conservatories) as well as the outdoor green spaces.
“…spectacular gardens spread across 120 acres”.
This is a learning lab and Plants Go Global inspiration for me as a Huntington Reader/researcher.
After visiting the New York Botanical Garden, catch some baseball to see the classy green turf at Yankee Stadium where carbon sequestering Kentucky Bluegrass is grown.
Farms and Agrotourism
Look for farms that are open for tours or have special events.
Explore corn fields that have been morphed into mazes.
WIRED Magazine calls Mike’s Maze of Sunderland, Massachusetts "The most elaborate corn maze in America".
Mike and his cronies use software that lays out the maze paths. Each year’s maze is themed, covering science, history, art and culture. People learn despite themselves while getting lost.
Do like a farmer and harvest the crops – apples, pumpkins and berries are super fun. It’s a great way to have children and students see how their food is grown, and they can become enticed to eat them.
Meet the Plants
Ginko: A Living Plant Fossil
Ginko trees are part of the fossil record dating back 200 million years, that survive today.
Ginkgo’s other common name is Maidenhair.
Its leaves are inspiration for art, jewelry and other beautiful objects.
Look at a Gingko leaf and you’ll see a fan-like shaped leaves with a smooth texture is smooth and ribbed veins throughout. The leaves attach to the branch’s grey, smooth protuberances in groups of 3.
How Ginkos got Old, Putrid, and Fascinating
Yale University’s Dr. Peter Crane tells all in Yale Environment 360 (published by Yale University and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies).
Carnivorous Plants: Everyone's favorites
Who can resist a plant that eats animals alive?
It totally makes plants seem like animals.
They'e not, of course. But this is how many people first connect with plants.
Charles Darwin, rock star evolutionist couldn’t resist carnivorous plants.
He was so intrigued he wrote an entire book called “Insectivorous Plants”.
He especially adored the Venus Fly Trap -
“…from the rapidity and force of its movements, it is one of the most wonderful (plant) in the world”
Pictured here is the Sun Dew, one of the Drosera genus. The "Dew" is actually sticky stuff that traps tasty insects used by the plant for nutrients.
In Insectivorous Plants, Darwin meticulously documented many experiments to see what the carnivorous plants would go for – human hair, cotton thread, needles, sugar solution, hot water, wet meat, gelatin, oil of cloves, saliva, turpentine and cobra poison. What curiosity and imagination - now that’s doing science!