Looking for the best fun facts about plants? From 15-feet tall grass found in Africa to wasp-eating figs, check out these mind-boggling plant facts now!
How versatile are plants!? You can eat them, use them in medicine, and they have this magical ability to transform any boring room into a vibrant living space. Not just that, but gardening has been proven to be good for your mental and physical health.
But there’s a whole wide world of plants thriving out there which we know hardly anything about. Just wait till you hear how many plants there are in the ocean.
Hopefully some of these fun facts about plants will give you a good overview of what’s out there though.
Like the fact that there’s a plant in Australia called the ‘Suicide Plant’. Anyone who comes in contact with it acquires a certain side effect (which can last for several years) that makes them feel depressed and suicidal. No wonder they say “everything in Australia wants to kill you!”
The intention behind this article is to introduce you to the unexplored, absolutely stunning, almost unbelievable side of the plant kingdom. So, if you want to discover some more plant facts that’ll be perfect for any pub quiz, then keep on reading!
15 Fun Facts About Plants
1. And the award for the longest living organism on planet earth goes to…
A tree! Well, there are several trees in various parts of the world which are 3,000-4,000 years old. But then there’s a bristlecone pine tree located in California which is considered to be the world’s oldest growing tree. This fella is a whopping 5,000 years old! That’s older than the Ancient Egyptians who built the Pyramids.
2. Clonal trees can live for more than 80,000 years
While California’s bristlecone pine tree is an individual organism, there are colonies of trees which are estimated to be over 80,000 years old. One such colony of 50,000 aspen trees is located in the Fishlake National Park in Utah. It’s called Pando, which means ‘I spread’. And those trees really have spread over the years!
3. What about the world’s tallest tree?
Again, a Californian tree. A coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) called Hyperion is considered to be the tallest tree to exist. Its height is 115.85 m (380.1 feet). That’s as tall as a 35 story building! Another interesting fact associated with this 600-year-old tree is that its exact location is kept a secret to protect it from damage.
4. Let’s talk numbers of species
It’s estimated that there are over 400,000 species of plants on our planet. This number is not fixed though since new species are discovered every year. Also, it’s pretty unbelievable to know that 85% of all plant life is found in the oceans. On land, we have just about 15%.
5. So much biodiversity, yet we keep eating just 30 plants
Half of these 400,000 are edible for human consumption. However, we humans tend to eat just 200 plant species (30 plants in their different life forms), ignoring all the rest. Rice, maize, and wheat – these 3 plants alone contribute more than 60% of the calories and proteins we humans obtain from plants.
6. If not eating, are we at least using them as medicines?
It is estimated that more than 50,000 plant species have the potential for being medicinal in nature. But most of these concoctions are traditional medicines, primarily used by the Indian, Chinese, and African medicine systems.
Furthermore, only 1% of rainforest plants have been researched for their medicinal potential. So it’s safe to assume that there’s a whole universe of untapped resources, hidden in those majestic rainforests, just waiting to be discovered.
7. Lost in a jungle? Use plants to navigate
Plants can be used as compasses to navigate through all kinds of terrains. For example, the moss that grows on the tree trunks of northern temperate climates tends to spread more towards the northern side.
Another trick is to analyze the rings on a tree that has been cut down. If the tree is in the northern hemisphere, rings will be thicker on the southern side, and vice versa.
8. Herbs and spices are not the same
Let’s make use of this list of fun facts about plants to burst this bubble of a common misconception – “herbs and spices are the same things”. No, they’re not!
Herbs come from leaves of the plant, while spices primarily come from stems, roots, seeds, berries, or barks.
9. What’s the fastest growing plant?
Any guesses? It’s the bamboo! It’s the fastest-growing plant in the world, and it can grow up to 35 inches in a day! That’s almost 1.5 inches per hour. If we pay close attention, we can actually watch bamboo grow in front of our eyes.
10. Plant kingdom can be surprisingly confusing
Pumpkins and avocados are actually fruits while pineapples are berries. To make things more confusing, rhubarb is a vegetable and cucumber is a fruit too.
And everyone knows tomatoes are a fruit right? There’s the famous quote of “knowledge is knowing tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad…”
11. Grass that’s tall enough to hide a herd of elephants
Found in Africa, elephant grass can grow to up to 15 feet in height. That’s tall enough for native African elephants to hide behind it. However, they also love gorging on this grass, hence the name.
12. And who’s the king of flowers?
That thought to be the Indonesian flower, rafflesia arnoldii. These flowers are considered to be the largest in the world. They can easily be 3.3 feet in diameter.
Another flower called Titan arum, also known as the ‘corpse flower’, can reach up to 15 feet in height. When they bloom they produce a strong smell similar to that of rotting meat. Thus, the name – corpse flower. Lovely.
13. Tell us something about tulips!
There are quite a few plant facts associated with tulip flowers. But our favorite is this one. During the 1600s, these gorgeous flowers used to be more expensive than gold. The craze for tulips was so high in those times that it led to the Dutch economy’s crash. They even have a name for it – tulipomania.
14. Speaking of weird, what about carnivorous plants?
There are about 600 species of plants which are considered to be carnivorous. They eat insects and small animals too. Even figs are carnivorous in nature. When they are pollinated by fig wasps, they trap the poor wasps and eat them. In the Philippines, there’s a carnivorous plant species capable of digesting a full-grown rat, alive!
15. Plants can even recognize their siblings!
Yes, they can! And they even give their siblings preferential treatment by competing less against them for valuable resources such as space for growth.
Who wants more fun facts?
If you’re looking for some recommendations, these are a few of our favorite fact books to buy. We use these when planning fun trivia nights with family and friends!
What are some of your favorite plant facts? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll add them to this article!