Information, pictures and facts about plants

Plants

Taxonomy divides all creatures into one of five kingdoms. The living things that comprise Kingdom Plantae, commonly known as plants, are multicellular organisms that feed via photosynthesis and have cell walls containing cellulose. This textbook definition only hints at the astonishing variety of plants so far discovered and with many more species still unknown to mankind; well over a quarter of a million plant species have been classified.

The tiny, primitive mosses growing on a towering sequoia tree and the tree itself are members of Kingdom Plantae. The green seaweed that washes up on a tropical beach and the palm trees growing along its edge also belong to the same kingdom.

Evolution of Plants

Before any animal walked on the land, plants had already grown there. About 500 million years ago during the Devonian period, the first plants colonized this new environment and permanently altered it in the process. The earliest land plants were bryophytes, or mosses. These primitive plants thrived in moist environments along flood plains and river deltas; most present-day mosses still rely on atmospheric moisture to survive.

From these evolved the tracheophytes or vascular plants. Most of the organisms that people readily identify as plants are tracheophytes. Thanks to vascularization, these plants were able to colonize every environment, as they were no longer limited to drawing water from the atmosphere. Their vascular systems also allowed them to grow huge compared to tiny bryophytes; massive ferns and cycads changed both the planet's rocky face and its atmosphere. These early plants became known as gymnosperms, literally meaning "naked seed" plants, because their seeds were unenclosed. They still exist in number--the coniferous forests of North America contain millions of these organisms.

Flowering plants, or angiosperms, first appeared in the fossil record about 200 million years ago, arriving as the age of dinosaurs was ending. Some early angiosperms had cone-like structures that make them a "missing link" of sorts between angiosperms and gymnosperms. Magnolia seed clubs look very like cones, for example. Despite their relatively short time on the planet, angiosperms have evolved to fill surprising evolutionary niches. Sundew plants of the genus Drosera actually trap and digest small insects, so plants can even fill the role of predator in a food web.

Photosynthesis: The Defining Characteristic of Plants

Regardless of their age or complexity, plants photosynthesize their nutrients. Photosynthesis is a chemical process that uses the energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into organic compounds. These compounds make the sun's energy accessible to the plant--and crucially, to anything that eats the plant. This unique ability to transform sunlight into accessible energy makes plants the basis for almost all life on Earth. Both the sugared breakfast coffee and the egg that accompanies it ultimately arose from sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water.

Plants have evolved to take advantage of the specific characteristics of the light they receive. Plants that live in the highly competitive environment of a rainforest floor have broad leaves to maximize the light they catch, while the towering trees above them grow large so they can top their neighbors and get more sun. Northern conifers have dark, thick needles to minimize surface area exposed to the drying cold air while still gathering as much heat and light as possible.

All life on earth aside from some strains of bacteria depends on plants for food and oxygen. Since before the most distant ancestors of the human race first crawled onto the land, plants had prepared the way.

Plants and pictures

 
Alismatales - Alismatales is an order of flowering plants.

 
Ambuchananiales - Ambuchanania leucobryoides is the only species of genus Ambuchanania.

 
Anthocerotales - Anthoceros Folioceros Sphaerosporoceros

Apiales - Under this definition well-known members include carrots, celery, parsley, and ivy.

Arales - Arales is a botanical name for an order of flowering plants.

 
Archidiales - Archidium is a genus of about 35 species of moss; it is the only genus in the family Archidiaceae and order Archidiales.

Arecales - Palms are among the best known and most extensively cultivated plant families.

Aristolochiales - In the Cronquist, Dahlgren, Goldberg and Reveal systems it is composed of a single family, the Aristolochiaceae.

Asterales - The order is a cosmopolite, and includes mostly herbaceous species, although a small number of trees and shrubs are also present.

Blechnales - Although studies agree that the families in question are related to each other, classifications which define the order Polypodiales broadly include the Blechnales in that order.

Bromeliales - It is best known from the Cronquist system, of 1981, which placed this order in subclass Zingiberidae, of class Liliopsida .

 
Callitrichales - A feature is the single stamen in the flower.

 
Calycerales - The Calycerales is a valid botanic name for an order of flowering plants.

Campanulales - Campanulales is not recognized as an order in the APG II system, where the families are included in order Asterales, except for Sphenocleaceae in Solanales.

Capparales - Capparales is a botanical name of an order of flowering plants.

Celastrales - Celastrales is an order of flowering plants.

 
Chaetophorales - In taxonomy, the Chaetophorales are an order of green algae, specifically the Chlorophyceae.

 
Cladophorales - In taxonomy, the Cladophorales are an order of green algae, specifically the Ulvophyceae.

 
Commelinales - Commelinales is the botanical name of an order of flowering plants.

Coniferales - The Order Pinales in the Division Pinophyta, Class Pinopsida comprises all the extant conifers.

 
Corallinales - Unattached specimens may form relatively smooth compact balls to warty or fruticose thalli.

Cornales - Cornales is an order of flowering plants, basal among the asterids, containing about 600 species.

 
Cyatheales - In general, any fern that grows with a trunk elevating the fronds above ground level can be called a tree fern.

Cycadales - Cycads are seed plants typically characterized by a stout and woody trunk with a crown of large, hard and stiff, evergreen leaves.

Cyperales - Cyperales is a name for an order of flowering plants.

 
Dendrocerotales - Dendroceros Megaceros Nothoceros Phaeomegaceros

 
Dicranales - Dicranales is an order of mosses in the subclass Dicranidae.

Dilleniales - The APG II system, of 2003, assigns the first of these families to the core eudicots, unplaced as to order, while debating either including it in order Caryophyllales or reinstating the order Dilleniales.

Dipsacales - The Dipsacales are an order of flowering plants, included within the asterid group of dicotyledons.

Ebenales - Ebenales is the botanical name of an order of flowering plants.

Ericales - The Ericales are a large and diverse order of dicotyledons, including for example tea, persimmon, blueberry, Brazil nut, and azalea.

Eriocaulales - The APG II system assigns these plants to the order Poales.

Eucommiales - Eucommiales is a botanical name for an order of flowering plants.

Euphorbiales - In the APG II system the plants involved are placed in order Malpighiales.

Fabales - Fabales is an order of flowering plants.

Fagales - The Fagales are an order of flowering plants, including some of the best known trees.

Gentianales - Gentianales are an order of flowering plants, included within the asterid group of dicotyledons.

Geraniales - The Geraniales are a small order of flowering plants, included within the rosid subgroup of dicotyledons.

 
Gracilariales - Prasinophyceae

 
Grimmiales - Grimmiaceae Ptychomitriaceae Seligeriaceae

 
Haloragales - Haloragales is a botanical name for an order of flowering plants.

Hamamelidales - Hamamelidales is the botanical name of an order of flowering plants.

 
Hymenophyllales - The Hymenophyllaceae is a family of seven genera and over 600 species of ferns, with a subcosmopolitan distribution, but generally restricted to very damp places or to locations where they are wetted by spray from waterfalls or springs.

 
Hypnales - Hypnales is an order of moss.

 
Illiciales - The order has been recognised by relatively few taxonomists, with the plant families of the order being variably placed in other orders in different taxonomies.

Isoetales - Isoetales, also written IsoŽtales, is an order of plants in the class Isoetopsida.

Juglandales - Juglandales is a botanical name for an order of flowering plants.

 
Juncales - However, the Thorne system accepts it as consisting of :

Lamiales - Species in this order typically have the following characteristics, although there are exceptions to all of them:

Laurales - The Laurales are an order of flowering plants.

Lecythidales - Lecythidales is a botanical name at the rank of order.

Leitneriales - It grows at damp habitats, mostly in coastal areas and has extremely light wood.

Liliales - Liliales is an order of monocotyledonous flowering plants.

Linales - Linales is a botanical name of an order of flowering plants.

 
Lycopodiales - Clubmosses are thought to be structurally similar to the earliest vascular plants, with small, scale-like leaves, homosporous spores borne in sporangia at the bases of the leaves, branching stems , and generally simple form.

Magnoliales - Magnoliales is an order of flowering plants.

Malvales - Malvales is the name of an order of flowering plants.

Marattiales - In this group, such fronds are found in the genus Angiopteris, native to Australasia, Madagascar and Oceania.

 
Marchantiales - Marchantiales is an order of thallose liverworts that includes species like Lunularia cruciata, a common and often troublesome weed in moist, temperate gardens and greenhouses.

 
Metzgeriales - Anacrogynae Frondosae Endlicher, 1841

Myricales - The Fagales are an order of flowering plants, including some of the best known trees.

Myrtales - The Myrtales are an order of flowering plants placed as a basal group within the rosid group of dicotyledons .

 
Najadales - Najadales is a botanical name of an order of flowering plants.

 
Nemaliales - Prasinophyceae

 
Nemastomatales - Nemastomatales is an order of red alga.

Nepenthales - Nepenthales is a botanical name for an order of flowering plants.

 
Pandanales - Pandanales is an order of flowering plants, with a pantropical distribution.

Piperales - Piperales is a botanical name for an order of flowering plants.

 
Plantaginales - Antirrhinaceae Pers. Aragoaceae D. Callitrichaceae Link nom. Chelonaceae Martinov Digitalaceae Martinov Ellisiophyllaceae Honda Globulariaceae DC. Gratiolaceae Martinov Hippuridaceae Vest nom. Littorellaceae Gray Psylliaceae Horan. Sibthorpiaceae D. Veronicaceae Cassel

Plumbaginales - Plumbaginales is an order of flowering plants.

 
Podostemales - The Podostemaceae is a family in the order Malpighiales.

Polygalales - The Polygalaceae or Milkwort family is a family of flowering plants in the order Fabales.

 
Polygonales - Polygonales was an order of flowering plants, recognized by several older systems, such as the Wettstein system, last revised in 1935, the Engler system, in its update of 1964, and the Cronquist system, 1981.

Polypodiales - Polypodiales may be regarded as one of the most evolutionarily advanced orders of monilophytes , based on recent genetic analysis.

 
Pottiales - Pottiales is an order of mosses in the subclass Dicranidae.

Primulales - Primulales is a botanical name of an order of flowering plants.

Proteales - Proteales is the botanical name of an order of flowering plants.

Pteridales - This order is considered a family under the Smith classification.

 
Rafflesiales - The APG II system regards Rafflesiaceae as an unplaced family of three genera.

Ranunculales - Ranunculales is an order of flowering plants.

Rhamnales - Rosanae Urticales

Rhizophorales - These are woody plants with opposite or whorled leaves , with insect-pollinated flowers having a nectary disc and typically five petals.

Rosales - Rhamnales Rosanae Urticales

Rubiales - The Rubiales are an order of flowering plants in the Cronquist system, including the families Rubiaceae and Theligonaceae.

Salicales - Bembiciaceae Caseariaceae Flacourtiaceae Homaliaceae Poliothyrsidaceae Prockiaceae Samydaceae Scyphostegiaceae and see text

Santalales - Santalales is an order of flowering plants with a cosmopolitan distribution, but heavily concentrated in tropical and subtropical regions.

Sapindales - Sapindales is a botanical name for an order of flowering plants.

Scrophulariales - Species in this order typically have the following characteristics, although there are exceptions to all of them:

 
Selaginellales - Selaginella is a genus of plants in the family Selaginellaceae, the spikemosses.

Solanales - The following families are included here in newer systems such as that of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group :

 
Sphaerocarpales - Sphaerocarpales is an order of plants within the liverworts.

 
Sphagnales - Ambuchananiaceae Flatbergiaceae Sphagnaceae

 
Takakiales - Takakia is a genus of only two species of moss known from western North America and central and eastern Asia.

Theales - Theales is a botanical name at the rank of order.

 
Triuridales - Triuridales was an order of flower plants that was used in the well-known Cronquist system, in the subclass Alismatidae, with this circumscription:

Urticales - Urticales is a botanical name for what used to be an order of flowering plants.

Violales - Violales is a botanical name of an order of flowering plants and takes its name from the included family Violaceae.

 
Zingerberales - It is considered that the Zingiberales together with the Commelinales evolved around 80 million years ago during the Late Cretaceous.