I know it seems very stupid to all the elders but it is really a very important question. Actually last week I was invited by a local school to teach the students about the importance of plants in nature, how we are dependent on them and so on. But I am sharing the incident that encourages me to write this post on such a common question: – Are Plants living things or Non-living things?
Actually, at the end of the session, I visited the Kindergarten or you can say the pre-school section. There were kids playing in the garden. I was amazed by how they were admiring the plants. They were even curious about the grasses and the leaves falling from the trees. Everything seems so exciting to them.
Then I decide to talk to them and ask them what they know about their environment. They were shy at first. After a few moments, I was flooded with many questions. And believe me, it was the best experience of my life to answer those little angels.
Are plants living or nonliving things? –Yes, Plants are living things for sure. We all know plants are as living as we are but in a different way. At first I think of it as simple as a yawn but actually, it was my fault.
If you are an office worker then you may find it difficult to convince your boss sometimes. But believe me, convincing a 4 or 5 year older is really harder than that.
So I decide to make it simple and straight to understand by just saying a simple yes to make them happy.
Are all plants living things?
Saying a simple yes to their question was not much satisfying I think? A question followed my answer quickly. Are all plant living thinks? are they hurt if we pluck a flower or leaves ……A kid named Clark quickly asked me and he continues to question before I start my answer. So I stated that yes, all plants are living and they are living till we leave them grounded.
I followed with the concept of life in its very basic like plants grow and they need water to grow and then I told them Yes, plants get hurt if we pluck the leaves or flower. Fortunately, there was a touch-me-not plant in the school garden that helped me a lot to support my answer.
When I let them try by touching the leaves, I am amazed by the scene- How much surprised they were by seeing the leaves curling by themselves. I think this demonstration has convinced them about the fact that plants are living things.
Who discovered plants are living thing
Just After my first explanation, here comes the next question- Another child asked me who discovered plants are living thing. Believe me when I first heard this question I think it would be simple but actually, I was also not very known about this fact.
So I decided to research and after a few moments of surfing- what I found: –
An Indian Scientist named Acharya Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose was the first person to actually prove that plants are as similar to the animals and can be considered as true living things.
Actually, He conducted several experiments to check the effect of natural forces like heat, light, wind, and gravity on any plant. His experiments proved that plants react to these phenomena just as any animal or human will do but is very slow manner. After his experiments, we can conclude that- Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose was the man who discovered plants are living things.
What makes the plant a living thing?
This was a genuine question and we all should know this. The very basic characteristic of growing and getting height by themselves makes plants a living thing. Factors to make plants a living thing can have many reasons. These reasons are relevant to growth and reproduction.
But I decided to inform the kids about the simple growth of any plant as a sign of being alive in nature. I did this because when I asked them about their experience many of them told me that they have seen their father or mother sometimes to cut the grasses in the lawn but the grass comes back again.
They were curious to know why this happens again and again. So I told them that all living things grow just like we humans grow and get longer after some time. This was an obvious answer but you won’t believe what a child asked after that—he said can I pluck my cats hair just like my mother do with the garden grass- I DON’T LIKE HIS HAIR at-all? Obviously, I strictly said No to him, never to think about it. It made me curious when asked me that- what was going in his head.
Why are plants considered as living things?
Plants are living things, we all know that but why are they considered living thing? They are considered living thing because they can grow by their own, they can move toward the light, some plants like touch-me-not are sensitive to the touch responses and much more. Plants are alive as they can grow both in height and length, they can eat, can drink, can reproduce and can die also.
I think I was successful in explaining the facts these kids need to know about Plants. Plants are considered living things as they possess certain characteristics of living things. These characteristics differentiate plants from any nonliving thing like rock or soil.
8 Characteristics of plants as living things
Characteristic of plants was the main topic of my discussion in the school. I decide to include this here in this post only because it is relevant to understand why we considered plants as living beings.
- Nutrition: – The first thing for being alive is-we must eat. So did the plants, they also need nutrition and they get this from the soil. In general plant, nutrition is of three types – Nitrogen base, Phosphorous base, and Potassium Based nutrition. Plants need this nutrition to grow in length by forming new branches and also to bear flowers and fruits.
- Respiration: – This was easy to explain. We need air to breathe so do the plants. They also need air to respire. But they utilize the carbon dioxide (CO2) more that Oxygen (O2).
Plants do respiration in the leaves. The leaves have very tiny pores called stomata from where the exchange of gases takes place.
Plants take in Carbon dioxide and give out Oxygen in presence of Sunlight. In the night most plant takes in the excess oxygen so in return gives Carbon dioxide.
- Movement: – This is a little bit different from animals. A plant cannot show locomotion. i.e., they cannot move from one place to another by their own like us. But they can move side through their branches and can reach far distance from its roots. Isn’t it Interesting?
- Excretion: – OK this is hard to explain but I did somehow. Plants do excrete but not as any other animal or humans but in a different way.
Excretion is the process of removal of waste material from the body. Plants remove the excess of water in the form of water vapor from their leaves and minerals from the root.
- Growth: – Growth in any plant can be easily noticed. As I discussed earlier the grasses. These kids were aware of plant growth. Actually, plants can grow both in size and height.
If it is a hardwood tree, they will find it getting the bigger height and wider trunk. If it is a soft plant like creepers then it will grow around the ground and can reach longer distances far from its root.
- Structure: – Plants being alive show variety in structure. You can see very small plants like grasses in your lawn and some even smaller that grass like green moss. On the other hand, you can also see very tall trees like palm and coconut near the beaches. So life in a plant is very relevant to its structure.
If the plant is dead the structure of that very plant or tree will show significant changes. Earlier if it was green then will become brown. If it was soft to touch earlier then you will find it rough and hard now.
- Reproduction: – Yes, Plants do reproduce. This how we get flower and fruits and also new plants to grow in our garden.
Generally, Plants reproduce by two methods- sexually and asexually. Buy this I mostly mean reproduction in flowers and reproduction without flower or fruit formation.
You can grow new plants from seeds. Mostly we can find seeds in any fruit we eat but not all are good to grow. Plant produce seeds by sexual reproduction in flowers where both male and female gametes i.e., androecium and gynoecium are present to reproduce.
You can also grow a plant from parts of other plants. This type of reproduction is called asexual reproduction. The best example is cutting, budding and grafting. You can grow a potato from its pieces and rose plant from its stem.
- Sensitivity: – This was interesting. At the time of my class, I was not aware that the school garden has a touch-me-not bush (scientific name: Mimosa pudica).
It is very sensitive to the touch so we call it touch-me-not. If you touch or even blow air over it, all the leaves will close and it is very quick to notice.
This was a very efficient example to demonstrate that plants have life and also to show they are sensitive enough to feel and touch response.
Plants are very sensitive to light. They need sunlight to grow and respire. Also, they are sensitive to water and temperature.
A simple Activity to Show Plants is Sensitive to Light
- Plant a healthy plant, actually, a potted plant is better in a shaded Region. Where light can enter through only one direction.
- Leave the plant there for a few days. Only take care of proper watering whenever required.
- After a few days, you will notice the plant will bend toward the light.
- Again rotate the pot and leave it for few days like that. Turn it in the opposite direction from the light source.
- Finally, the plant will turn toward the light again and show how sensitive plants are.
Several other questions I encountered
Is grass a living thing? Yes, grasses are living things and very fast with their growth. Grasses are very good to control erosions and also makes garden and lawn look green. Grasses show both sexual and asexual reproduction. You can buy seeds of varieties of grasses and also find root nodules that can regenerate to form new grass.
Are vegetables living thing? – Yes, Vegetables are definitely living things. If you pluck the vegetable then it will not be considered living though it is green and contain seeds. Vegetables grow as living things.
Are flowers falling from tree-living or non-living? – Flowers falling off from trees are not living because they are detached from the branches and will dry in some time. If you pluck the flower from the branches then it will dry and considered dead so we call it non-living thing after that.
If I missed something then please let me know. What do you think about these questions and if possible ask these to your young ones and please try to make them understand nature and natural phenomena? Make them love plants and let them learn “Life in Green”.