Plants That Move: Learn About Plant Movement
The term “plant” is used here because it refers to all living things including fungi, bacteria, protozoa, insects and other organisms. Plants are not just plants; they include trees, shrubs and grasses. They have many different types of leaves and flowers which produce food for humans or other creatures.
Some plants grow only underground while others live in the soil but some can survive in both places.
Insects and other small animals such as mites, ticks, fleas and ants are called arthropods. Arthropod means “foot” in Greek. Many kinds of insects live on plants.
For example, aphids feed on the roots of plants while scale insects attack the foliage and fruits of plants. Most insects do not harm humans directly but they can cause problems if they invade homes. Insects that live in the soil are called earthworms. Earthworms eat organic matter and excrete it back into the ground when disturbed.
Many kinds of plants have tiny seeds which are often eaten by birds, mammals and even humans. Seeds come in many shapes and sizes so there is no way to tell what kind of seed will germinate next without examining them individually.
Plants that move are not humans or animals, but they do have specialized cells that help them to grow, move and respond to their surroundings. Most plants grow in soil but some types such as molds and mushrooms live on top of rocks, wood or even our skin.
For example the picture above is a photo of the plant a Creeping Chara commonly found in temperate regions like the forests of Oregon. It is an aquatic plant, which means that it has to live in water. The leaves of the Creeping Chara are shaped like stars and have fleshy stems.
The stems float on the top of the water which helps the leaves stay above the water surface.
The picture shows a plant called Officinalis, commonly known as Star Thistle or Purple Thistle. It grows on dry land like most plants in Oregon do. The plant has a lot of small spines and hard bristles that help it stay safe from animals and people.
It reproduces by producing thousands of tiny seeds every summer.
The picture above is the flower of a plant called Dandelion. It isn’t always yellow and can also be white, pink or purple. These flowers produce lots of tiny seeds which are easily transported by the wind.
The flower turns into a puff ball when it dies and has seeds inside. These seeds can be eaten by people and some birds like to eat them too.
The picture above is a flower and leaves of a plant called Yarrow. It is a common plant that grows all over Oregon. People used to use the stem and leaves of the Yarrow to help wounds stop bleeding.
This process is called “stopping the blood” which is also known as “binding it up”. Native Americans used to call this plant “blood clot”.
Oregon has many plants that grow in water such as the picture above which shows a small lily pad. Some plants can grow both in water and on land such as the picture above, which shows a Reed growing in Oregon.
Some plants have very small seeds like the one above. These are called “wind dispersed seeds” because they are so light that the wind can easily pick them up and spread them around. The picture shows a fritillary seed which is very small.
There are many different kinds of fritillaries in Oregon some of which people eat.
Other plants have large seeds such as the “chestnut”, “acorn” and “dill” pictured above. These plants have big seeds that are often used for different purposes. For example, acorns can be eaten by animals and ground up to make a nutritious meal.
Acorns can also be used as a source of water in Oregon where there is a shortage.
The picture above shows a “bulb” which is part of an onion plant. The onion bulb is a large plant organ which stores “food” for the whole plant to use later. The upside-down cup in the middle contains multiple layers of skin that protect the food.
People often use the skin layers of plants like this to make different things. For example, people can use the skins of cactii to make sturdy shoes.
The picture above shows a “fruit” which grows on the branches of a persimmon tree. The persimmon fruit is green when it is unripe and becomes orange when it is ripe. These fruits are often used to make jams, jellies and drinks.
The fruits of the Oregon grape plant are red and blue. Native Americans used to eat them for their sour flavor.
Many plants have a “root” such as the one above. The roots help the plant anchor itself to the ground so that it does not get blown away by the wind. These roots also help the plant absorb water from the ground which helps it stay alive.
Most plants need water in order to stay alive.
The picture above shows the “leaf” of a plant called Oregon Grape. This leaf is purple and can be used to make dyes for clothes. Native Americans also sometimes eat these leaves when food is scarce.
The picture above shows a “fruit” which grows from the branches of a madrone tree. Madrone trees are common in Oregon and can grow to be very large. The fruit pictured above is yellow inside and pinkish red outside.
Native Americans sometimes eat the fruits of the madrone tree when food is scarce.
Some plants such as the one above have a “flower”. The flower of the plant above is purple and white. Native Americans sometimes use these flowers to make different kinds of medicine.
Plants are an important part of life in Oregon. Many plants are edible and some can even be used to treat illnesses which is very useful!
Sources & references used in this article:
Plant behaviour and communication by R Karban – Ecology letters, 2008 – Wiley Online Library
Host selection in phytophagous insects: a new explanation for learning in adults by JP Cunningham, SA West, MP Zalucki – Oikos, 2001 – Wiley Online Library
Conversations on plant sensing: notes from the field by N Myers – Nature Culture, 2015 – ir.library.osaka-u.ac.jp
Green plants as intelligent organisms by A Trewavas – Trends in plant science, 2005 – Elsevier
An evolutionarily conserved mechanism delimiting SHR movement defines a single layer of endodermis in plants by H Cui, MP Levesque, T Vernoux, JW Jung… – …, 2007 – science.sciencemag.org
Plant migration and climate change: a more realistic portrait of plant migration is essential to predicting biological responses to global warming in a world drastically … by LF Pitelka, Plant Migration Workshop Group – American Scientist, 1997 – JSTOR
Corridors affect plants, animals, and their interactions in fragmented landscapes by JJ Tewksbury, DJ Levey, NM Haddad… – Proceedings of the …, 2002 – National Acad Sciences