Look Out! That Plant is Loaded!

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We learned earlier how some animals defend themselves. But did you know there are common plants that will strike back against predators, too?

Since plants don’t have teeth or claws and they can’t run away, they have developed some tricky (yet powerful) ways to “stay alive.”

Today is Plant Conservation Day, so in honor of this occasion, check out these protective plants.

And remember to …

Look out! That plant is loaded!

Zucchini Protection

dsc_0203aYou have to look closely, but at the bottom of the leaves and the entire vine of a zucchini plant, there are tiny, translucent thorns. These little thrones keep the plant safe from bugs that want to eat the fleshy greens. These pointy prickles can also be very irritating to human skin.

Zucchini and squash plants also have a potent acrid smell. They emit this overpowering odor to deter animals, such as deer, from eating them.

Cabbage Warning Signals

cabbage-plants-500x500When a cabbage leaf is cut or eaten by a predator, the cabbage will emit a gas called, methyl jasmonate. Believe it or not, this gas acts as a signal to the surrounding cabbage to emit their toxic chemicals.

And it works!

Bye bye, hungry predator.

Nettles Inject Poison

This plant is covered with microscopic needles that inject acid into an animal’s skin by a single touch. These large stinging hairs are actually hollow tubes with walls of silica, downloadwhich makes them into tiny glass needles.

On the base of each “hair,” there is a bulb filled with stinging acid made up of formic acid and histamine. The tips of the glassy hairs are very easily broken when brushed.  This leaves behind a sharp point, which can then easily pierce the skin to deliver the sting.

The Delphinium

download (1)Tall larkspur is a Delphinium which grows wild. It is so powerful it can kill sheep and cattle. The Garden Delphinium is also extremely toxic to mammals and insects. In fact, in old Transylvania, a black delphinium was used to keep witches away.

The dried ripe seeds of Delphinium contain a substance called calcatripine. It also holds a volatile oil, gum, resin, fixed oil, gallic, and aconitic acids. All these spell trouble to anyone or anything that handles it too much.

Deadly Nightshade

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Both the leaves and the berries of the Nightshade plant are incredibly toxic. The odd thing is, potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, and chili peppers are all members of the Nightshade family.

This plant defends itself with atropine. Although toxic in large doses, this chemical is used to help people with heart problems. It was also once used to dilate the eyes of women for cosmetic effect.

Back Off!

Who knew plants had their own way of staying safe? From prickles to bad odor, to toxins, these plants know how to stay alive.

Happy Plant Conservation Day!

Let’s respect the “green.”

 

Categories: Nature

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