Plants and our strange relationship

I think one of the most important things in my life is my relationship with plants. From eating healthy to watering my baby dahlia plants to support their growth; we all have some experience with plants. You can ask your coworker about their relationship with plants and they will at least name off two plants that are edible, three plants that flower, and one that’s deadly. How many can you name off? Can you name a plant that eats insects? Can you name a plant that can cause a mild psychedelic effect?

Plants are vital to our world for more than just one reason; they filter carbon dioxide into oxygen, food source, shelter, and some can be a water source. We loves roses for their beauty and romance, we love lavender for its soothing smell, green beans and spinach for their nutrition. We all know these things, so why in the world am I discussing fun facts about plants; what could I possibly have to offer that you might not know?

We all know that plants are one of the few creatures on earth that can draw energy from sunlight and soil. A plant can sit in soil with the sun beating on them and they will grow with little intervention. Did you know that our oceans contain over 85% of plants on Earth? How about the discovery in 2009 of a plant species that feasts on rats in the Philippines? The plant is called Nepenthes attenboroughii, similar to a pitcher plant, have the ability to break down larger prey than its cousin. Who would have thought there were carnivorous plants that could do that? I’m personally fascinated by carnivorous plants because they usually grow in poor soil conditions and yet still get all the nutrition they need. Venus fly traps are the most well-known, did you know they can only open and close their leaves several times in their lifetimes before they die away? Or they are annuals in some areas. Fun fact, Venus Fly Traps are native to South Carolina in North America.

What about the famed corpse flower native to Sumatra? It’s a giant flower that can grow up to 15 ft tall and smells like rotting meat, but why does it smell so vile? Well, like the Rafflesia, they developed the pungent odor to be pollinated by flies as not to compete with the other flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. While the Titan Arum smells bad, the oleander can kill you as it contains: Digitoxigenin, Neriin, Oleandrin, Oleondroside. These toxins within an oleander don’t just affect humans, it affects dogs, cats, horses, cattle and other vertebrates.

Worse yet are the plants that contain levels of cyanide including apples, peaches, apricots, lima beans, barley, sorghum, flaxseed and bamboo shoots. Luckily for us the amount to consume is more than you could stomach anyway. There’s others like Jack in the pulpit, used for medicinal purposes such as headaches an antiseptic for abrasions but the roots are poisonous if fresh. However if dried, it removes the calcium oxalate potency and can be edible which usually takes up to six months to dry.

For the sake of this piece, mushrooms do not count, which plants do you know of that have a psychedelic effect if consume or smoked? There’s Salvia, morning glory, and the obvious marijuana.Erythroxylum coca used to combat fatigue, pain and hunger; and also mildly intoxicating though not necessarily psychedelic. I won’t spend much time on psychedelics.

Besides the obvious reasons, what else makes plants so amazing? The fact that there have been studies about plants communicating with its environment. How in the world can something stationary, without a face or vocal cords communicate? Chemicals, my friend, chemicals.

Studies have shown that parasitic plants such as the Dodder plant that can tell the difference between a flower and a tomato plant, which it prefers the tomato, in controlled settings. These annuals feast on their hosts until they die then return the following year after pollination. Plants can use chemicals to call different bugs for pollination depending on circumstances or even help from bigger bugs and birds to save them.

In conclusion, I’ve found that plants and humans have a unique friendship despite how strange plants can be. Some are poisonous, some are scary, some stink, some are helpful, some are nutritious, and some are beautiful. What do you think?

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