A plant is a living thing that captures and uses the sun’s energy to make its food. Watch What Plants Need to Grow. Plants are the first link in a food chain. Animals and people depend on plants. The study of plants is called botany. Scientists who study plants are called botanists. Botanists divide the 350,000 kinds of plants into two groups: plants with roots, stems and leaves (such as trees, bushes, ferns, grasses and flowers) called vascular plants and plants without roots, stems or leaves (like moss and algae) called non-vascular plants. Vascular plants are more complex than non-vascular plants which are simple. Take a look at the Integrated Taxonomic System as a way to explore types and locations of plants. Most plants live on land, but some live in and near water. Most plants begin life as seeds. Seeds have everything they need to reproduce into a plant, but they cannot grow if they are covered in fruit. Seeds are carried by people, animals, water and the wind. When seeds are planted or land on land, they have to have enough water, good soil and sunlight to grow.
When seeds begin to grow, they extend roots below ground and shoots above. Shoots can grow buds, leaves, stems, flowers, fruits and vegetables. Plants can be annuals (one growing season only), perennials (many growing seasons) and biennials (two growing seasons). Through photosynthesis, plants convert energy from the sun into sugars, breath in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. The pigment that makes a plant green, chlorophyll, is responsible for converting sunlight into useable chemical energy.
Leaves of a plant take in sun and water as needed through their cells. Plants clean the air we breathe, feed us, clothe us, help define our climate zones and shape the environments in which we live. Plants are an integral part of our healthy earth.
Activity 1 – You and a Beanstalk!
Find a container, some potting soil, bean seeds and organize a sunny, warm place to place your planted seeds. Keep the seeds moist and in a sunny windowsill. In a few days your bean seeds should sprout. You can even plant a lemon seed. Watch this video to how easy it is to start. How to Grow a Lemon Tree From a Lemon Seed. Record its daily progress. When the seeds are three inches tall or more turn their pot around. See what happens the next day. Do your beans act like a solar collector and follow the sun? That’s plant power! Plants have hormones that cause the cells closet to the light to grow more quickly. This is called phototropism. Remember, as your plant grows taller and bigger, it will need a bigger pot!
Let’s get started growing!
Activity 2 – Diagram a Plant
Using the links on the explore page of this journey, draw a plant. Take a look at leaf and flower terminology and draw several examples of different types of leaves and flower parts. Diagram and label your pictures of plant parts, leaf parts and flower parts. Once you can name the parts of a plant, look at how plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. This process is called Photosynthesis. Make a diagram that shows (and labels) the steps of photosynthesis.
Be a botanist!!!
Activity 3 – Plant Cells Let Light and Moisture In!
Explore Label the Cells.When you think you know the names of the parts of a plant cell, draw a cross section. A plant cell has a cell wall so it is called a eukaryotic cell. Label the main parts and list their function: nucleus, nucleolus, coaxial centrosome, centriole, golgi, lysosome, peroxisome, secretary vesicle, cell membrane, mitochondrian, vacuole, cell wall, chloroplast, smooth endoplasmic reticulum, rough endoplasmic reticulum, ribosomes, and cytoskeleton. Become a cell analyst!
Let the light in!
Activity 4 – Plant Types
Plants that grow and come back every year are called perennials; perennials are hardy plants that can survive seasonal temperature extremes and still return in the spring. Annuals are plants like certain herbs, vegetables and flowers that only grow for one season and must be planted anew each year. Look around your yard. Which plants do you think are annuals? Which plants do you think are perennials? Make a chart of the plants at your house and at your school. Draw or photograph the plants in winter and summer seasons to show if they are dormant(sleeping) in the cold season and growing in the warm season.
seasonal: vegetation that blooms, grows or colors a garden differently during seasons perennial: plants that come back again every year annual: plants that grow only for one season
Activity 5 – Plant Processes
Activity 6 – Plants are Used For Many Things!
Walk around your home or school. Find at least five different plant types. Look at the plants’ foliage, flowers, fruit, and stems. Look at the plants’ habits; see how tall or wide it is. Does it grow in groups or individually? FInd out the names of your five plants. Now make a list of as many plant products as possible. Think of things you eat, wear and use and make a chart in your journal to see which plant type is used the most.
What plants do you wear?
- Wheat is one of the most important food crops in the world.
- Some plants do not have roots or stems.
- Fruits and vegetables are different parts of a plant.
- If the climate in a region changes, the plant types will still remain the same.
- Chlorophyll is responsible for:
- 4H Children's Garden, Michigan State University
- Amazing Wheat!
- ArtPlantae:Connecting Naturalists, Artists and Educators
- Ask a Biologist:Time Traveling Plants
- Cells Alive 3D Cells
- Chelsea Physic Garden
- Ecoregions of the World
- Exploring Nature Field Study Seed Dispersal
- Fall Leaf Color
- Field Museum Field Guides to Plant Types
- Flower and Leaf Terminology by Artist Linda Vorobik
- Genetics Alive!
- Georgia O'Keefe Museum: Natural and Still Life Forms
- Georgia O'Keefe Paintings
- How to grow a lemon tree from a lemon seed video
- Integrated Taxonomic Information System (Plants)
- Invasive Plants
- ITSI Decomposition of Plants
- ITSI Virtual Greenhouse
- La Mannahatta
- Living Walls/Vertical Garden
- Monet’s Water Lilies
- Munsell Plant Tissue Color Chart
- Munsell Soil Color Chart
- Niki Simpson Digital Botanical Illustration
- Photosynthesis and Fossil Fuels
- Plant Cell Coloring
- Plant Cell Lab
- Plant Cells Interactive (choose)
- Planting Science
- Plant Nutrition Games
- Plant Parts Quiz
- Plant Relations: A First Book on Botany, John M. Coulter, AM, Ph.D
- Plants & The Environment
- Plant Structure and Function
- Replicating Photosynthesis
- Seed Dispersal Adaptation
- Seed Dispersal Matching
- Simple Story of Photosynthesis and Food Video
- Smithsonian Catalogue of Botanical Illustration
- Stephanie Nava Consider a Plot Exhibit
- The Glass Flower Collection Harvard Natural History Museum
- USDA Plant Database
- Video FLowers, Seeds and The Life Cycle
- Video Plants and Their Seeds
- Video Plants & Animal Cells Khan Academy
- Video TEDed How Plants Tell Time