MadSci Network: Botany

Re: why are plants important to the human race?

Date: Sun Jan 27 18:41:23 2002
Posted By: David Hershey, Faculty, Botany, NA
Area of science: Botany
ID: 1012154195.Bt

From a human standpoint plants provide:

- Oxygen production, which also lead to spontaneous ozone layer formation
- Major role in formation of soils
- Prevention of soil erosion
- Major part of hydrologic cycle
- Major part of biogeochemical cycling of many elements such as nitrogen and 
- Basis of food chains
- Major effects on moderating climates
- Habitats for many other organisms
- Food 
- Beverages (coffee, tea, chocolate, quinine water)
- Clothing 
- Shelter
- Furniture
- Building materials (lumber, bamboo)
- Paper
- Fuels
- Fibers (hemp, flax, etc.)
- Perfumes
- Cosmetics
- Soaps
- Sports equipment (baseball bats, golf balls, tennis rackets, bows and arrows)
- Shampoos
- Medicines
- Herbal supplements (ginkgo)
- Flavorings
- Dyes
- Industrial products (rubber, cork, alcohol, sugars, soaps, oils, tannins, 
turpentine, linseed oil for paints)
- Aesthetics (home lawns, ornamental trees, shrubs and vines; cut flowers, 
potted flowering plants, shade trees, house plants)
- Recreation areas (forests, grass athletic fields, botanic gardens, golf 
courses, arboretums, grass tennis courts)
- Jobs (plant agriculture is a major employer)
- Leisure activities (gardening is top leisure activity)
- Water purification
- Air purification
- Phytoremediation
- Intellectual enjoyment from learning and knowing about plants
- Pesticides (nicotine sulfate, pyrethrins, ricin, rotenone, etc.)
- Thorny plants used for security landscaping
- Noise abatement as with hedges and trees
- Plants as novelties (Chia pets, venus fly trap, resurrection plant, sensitive 
plant, etc.)
- Craft items (pine cones, seed pods, dried flowers, Spanish moss, bald cypress 
knees, etc.)
- Jewelry (amber - fossilized tree sap, seeds, ginkgo leaves)
- Holiday Decorations (Christmas trees and greens, cranberry and popcorn 
strings, Indian corn for Thanksgiving, pumpkins for Halloween)
- Symbols (state trees and flowers, national symbols like Canada maple leaf, 
USA national flower is rose)
- Plant forms depicted in arts and on stamps, coins, clothing, etc. (Van 
Gogh's 'Sunflowers and 'Irises' two of world's most expensive paintings)
- Ancient and huge trees revered and admired (redwoods, sequoia, bristlecone 
pine, ginkgo, etc.)

"Negative" ways plants are important to people include:

- Poisonous plants (poison ivy, poison hemlock, ricin from castor bean, 
locoweed, and many others)
- Plants that cause pollen allergies (ragweed and many others)
- Weeds and invasive plants (water hyacinth, purple nutsedge, etc.)
- Harmful products (cigarettes, alcohol, cocaine, opium) 
- Thorny plants

A web search on many of these topics on will turn up plenty of 
additional info.


Re: What type of plants are used in everyday household products?

Importance of Plants

Importance of plants and plant communities

Why Plants?

What are Worst Weeds?

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