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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 are plants importantJoin us in this Green Ecologist article in which we delve into the importance of plants for us, other living beings and ecosystems.
Importance of plants for living beings
By way of 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 transform the sun's energy in chemical energy and manufacture with it organic material. That is, they produce organic matter from totally inorganic sources, this is how plants feed themselves.
- These, in turn, they are food for a great variety of living beings, both herbivores and omnivores.
- For this reason, plants are responsible for a good part of 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 by-product 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, contribute oxygen to the atmosphere. Is ozone layer it prevented ultraviolet rays from reaching the land and sea surfaces 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:
- 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 gives firmness to the earth with its roots, so plants minimize the effects of erosion and preventing the wind and rainfall from destroying the terrain.
- Similarly, plants allow fix organic matter and nutrients in the topsoil. Therefore, without them, the rain would wash them down to the rivers and the sea, causing the desertification of the soil.
- Too provide shelter for a multitude of animalsThey do it for many aquatic organisms, from insects to birds and mammals, as well as algae.
Importance of plants for humans
Man gets multiple plant benefits. 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: feeding. 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.
- What's more, timber that the 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 It has been a basic fuel in many eras, and although it is used considerably 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 They give us serenity and relaxation and, therefore, in many homes people resort to plants so as not to lose direct contact with nature.
Importance of medicinal plants
Y 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 the medicinal plants to treat your various 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 themselves, 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. For this reason, 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 Green Ecologist articles about 60 medicinal plants of Peru and what they are for and 50 Mexican medicinal plants and what they are for.
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