Ed Golson Outdoor Education

what do all plants have in common?

All species of plants are different from one another. Some, like trees and wildflowers, are very familiar to us. Some, like mosses or hornworts, are much more mysterious. Even though there are such a variety of plants, there are a few things that all plants have in common.

At the cellular level, all plants are eukaryotic- meaning they have a nucleus and other organelles. One type of organelle in particular- chloroplasts- are found in all plants. Chloroplasts are filled with the pigment chlorophyll and are where the plant makes its food. Also plants are always multicellular- meaning that they are made up of more than one cell. Around each of those cells is a cell wall made of cellulose. The cell wall makes the cell much more rigid and gives the plant support. The cells of animals and other organisms don’t have a cell wall.

All plants use light to undergo photosynthesis to make food. Plants take the light energy from the sun and change it into sugar that they can use for energy. This is very important because plants are the only types of organisms that can do this. All other types of living things either need to eat plants or eat things that eat plants in order to get their energy. Plants are at the base of every type of food web. Without plants, there would never be any kind of food.

Beyond that, there really are no other real rules for what a plant is or isn’t. If an organism has all the above characteristics, it’s a plant. If it doesn’t, it’s not a plant. (Of course things like algae, fungi, and some bacteria can make things a little more confusing, but we won’t worry about that right now.)

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