Our dependence upon plants

Our dependence upon plants



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Week 1 — Plants and People
I. Our Dependence Upon Plants

In Part I of Exploring the Garden, we made the bold statement:

"The importance of photosynthesis cannot be overstated. All life on earth depends on it."

We talked about how humans—and all animals—depend on plants to capture the energy of the sun and, using that energy, manufacture the carbohydrates on which all animal life depends. Add that to the fact that during the process of photosynthesis plants release the oxygen we need to survive, and our dependence upon plants becomes clear.

OK, so we know plants are vital to our survival. But plants also enhance our lives in innumerable ways. If you look around you right now, you can probably find a number of items that are derived from plants—pencils, paper, desk, cork bulletin board, cotton t-shirt, books. But you might be surprised at just how pervasive plants and plant products are in the products you see and use every day.

Rather than simply constructing a random list of plant-derived products, let’s take a more organized, botany-centered approach. Let’s begin at the cellular level and look at various plant cell structures and properties, and explore how their characteristics determine their utility to us.

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