Plants are essential organisms on the earth. I said essential because none of us and other organisms can survive here if there are no plants. This indicates their priority for life.
Uses of plants
- As source of food
- Clothing textile
- Furniture material
- Life saving medicine
- Environmental support
- Shelter to animals
- Support rainfall
- Prevent soil erosion
Their presence is inevitable for clean air, food, and water in this world.
Even these plants contribute to our economy. People in many countries rely on plant products for their livelihood and income. Read more on facts about plants.
Plants people relationships are so much interlinked that we need them to survive.
Uses of Plants to Humans and Importance
Benefits of plants to humans Plants are in following ways as
They produce carbohydrates by converting the light energy as chemical energy and store it in them.
This food synthesized in them is available to us in the form of fruits, seeds, tuberous roots, etc.
Impressively, this plant diet is wholesome food with complete nutrients comprising of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
For humans, the plant food is ideal for those wishing for healthy life, athletic training and recovery from diseases.
For example, an athlete who has undergone rigorous exercise will have exhausted the essential nutrients from his muscles.
He can regain the lost nutrients from plant food in just two days. On other hand if he consumes high protein diet like the animal meat, it would take 5 days or more.
This indicate the importance of plant diet to humans.
Plants like cotton are the largest providers of textile and fabric material. The dress we wear like the jeans, sweat shirts, under garments are mostly made from cotton fibers.
The specialty of these plant fibers is they can be washed easily, ironed with heat and even boiled to manage colors.
The cloth made from these fibers is comfortable to the body as it helps to aerate the body and also absorb sweat.
Further, these materials are environmental friendly, durable and less expensive.
Hence, plant fibers are used largely for making clothes and bedding material which is required by us in daily life.
The plant materials like jute, contribute for manufacturing of bags, ropes and other material.
3. Furniture & Shelter
Plants are the important source of furniture since time immemorial. The plant wood is used to build houses, to make furniture items, carts, boats, automobiles, ships etc.
At home, we use wood due to its features like durability, neat finishing, resistance to temperature changes, etc.
The trees like teak, neem, red sandal, etc. are good sources of wood for making doors, chairs, shelves, tables, etc.
Even the presence of plants around the area of human life relieves stress. Hence we see many people growing small plants in their household to get fresh air and also give naturalness.
Plants are an excellent source of medicine even for life-threatening diseases.
For example drugs like
♦ Digoxin for the plant digitalis purpurea is used congestive heart failure.
♦ Vincristine and alkaloid from vinca rosea shrub is used for treatment of cancer.
♦ Theophylline a derivative of coffee plant pods is used for asthma.
♦ Ergot an alkaloid from fungus claviceps purpurea is used as remedy for migraine headache.
♦ Reserpine from plant rawolfia serpentina helps to control high blood pressure.
♦ Chloroquine a derivative of quinine from cinchona tree bark is used for malaria
♦ Ginseng a root extract from panaz ginseng enhances vitality and immunity.
So we can even notice that plants are the sole sources of some life-threatening medicines.
Also, plant medicine is safer due to their lower chances of side effects and also better compatibility with humans.
Fuels derived from the plant biomass is called as biofuel. Ethanol and bio-diesel are popular bio-fuels in use currently.
Did you ever drive your vehicle on petrol which is a mixture of 10% ethanol and 90% gasoline. You will notice the vehicle has good pickup and also gives better mileage. It also keep engine healthy.
Ethanol is obtained from plant carbohydrate material by fermentation. Similarly, biodiesel is obtained from vegetable oils. This biodiesel too can be mixed with petrol for better performance of engine.
These plant fuels help to save economy by minimizing the import of petroleum. Even the plant waste is used to generate electricity.
6. Natural pesticides
Plants are also the source of insecticides and pesticides.
For example the mosquito repellent we use at homes have a chemical pyrethrin. This pyrethrin is obtained from the plant Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium.
Neem oil and extract has pest repellent and antimicrobial properties. It is used to control aphids, beetles, spider mites etc in farming. It is also used against nematodes, fungi and bacteria.
Using artificial pesticides are harmful to the environment. They stay in the soil for very long time, causing ground water, soil and air pollution. They even enter the food we eat and cause health issue to human and animals.
Using these naturally derived pesticides are safe. They degrade fast and even do not harm other animals like earthworms, frogs, squirrels, snakes etc.
7. Rubber & Plastic
Rubber is one of the regular commodity we use in different forms like foot wear, tires, tubes, foot wear etc. This rubber is a latex obtained from rubber trees as white exudation.
This rubber is one of the major source of economic contribution to farmers.
Flowers are used widely by humans. They are used for beauty, to convey feelings and also for their fragrance.
In some countries, they worn as garlands and even in the hair on the head for beauty.
While some use them to convey their love to their beloved ones. They are also used to produce fragrance, and even their scent is extracted for daily use.
9. A source of vitamins
Plants are the largest source of essential vitamins to the body. The body cannot manufacture vitamins on its own for metabolism.
10. Economic contribution
Plants are great contributors to an economy. Many countries rely on agriculture as one of the main sources of revenue.
Plants are responsible for the production of food, cosmetics, drugs, cloth, honey, gum, tannins, essential oils (perfumes), alkaloids, resins, etc. which are all money yielding. So plants provide a great contribution to economic growth. Even now many countries economies are primarily dependent on plant products.
Importance of Plants in nature.
Environment and the climate are interlinked mainly with plants. The presence of plants influences Rainfall, humidity, and temperature. Cutting down plants also imbalance the environment which will indirectly affect human life.
1. They form the starting point of food chains:
In every food chain, the plants occupy the first position and lead the chain as a source of food. For example
Grass→ Cow→ Lion.
Grass → Insect → Frog→ Snake→ Eagle.
Here the plant starts the chain and other animals live on it directly or indirectly. Without plants, there can be no life on earth.
2. Gaseous balance: Plants help maintain gaseous balance in the air. Animals emit carbon dioxide by taking in oxygen. This rise in carbon dioxide levels in air is reduced by plants. They consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen during photosynthesis. Thus oxygen the essential life force is kept intact on the earth due to plants alone.
3. Prevent soil erosion: Plants, when grown in dense, prevent soil erosion, i.e., in times of winds, the fertile top layer of soil is carried away by air. This is prevented by plants if grown around.
4. Ecological balance: Plants impart greenery to the atmosphere, they help reduce heat and prevent drying up of moisture. Thus they are environmental savvy.
5. Support rainfall: Plants and trees have a cooling effect on the atmosphere leading to rainfall. Hence we see no rains in deserts.
Rainfall is very important to provide water for drinking, cleaning, irrigation, etc. Hence the role of forest in the cause of rainfall is indispensable.
6. Maintain soil fertility: Plants maintain soil fertility. Their droppings and shedding of leaves, fruits, and other parts degrade in the soil to form humus. This humus increases soil fertility as it is microbial friendly. Plants like blue-green algae and bacteria are also extensively used to fix nitrogen in the soil for agriculture.
7. Support for birds and animals:
Plants are the best places of shelter for birds and few animals like monkeys & squirrels to live.
Birds build their nests for hatching eggs, sleep, hunt, and safety on the trees.
In forests, animals can take shelter under trees in heavy summers and rain.
They also provide nutrition for many soil worms (earthworms), insects, rodents, etc.
Importance of Plants in Environment
1. Reduce Gaseous pollution: In cities and towns, there is a rise in gaseous pollution like(CO2, CO, SO2, etc.). So city environments are highly polluted and unsafe for living. This is due to automobiles and factories ejecting toxic gases and also reducing the healthy oxygen ratio of air. Air pollution causes diseases of various types. So growing plants on the roadside, parks, etc. helps minimize the gaseous pollution. For the benefit of plants oxygen, they can even be grown in office, residential areas, education institutes, etc. For this, we can use low maintenance plants like indoor potted plants, hanging plants, etc.
8. Miscellaneous benefits: They are the source of essential oils which are used in perfumes. Their material is used for making beverages like wine, beer, etc. Other items like paper, bio-diesel, bio-manure are also obtained by use of plant material.
So they contribute to all the types of living beings either big or small, on land or water.
But given the vast importance of plants to human, we need to strive for plant conservation.