Even before the first life forms crawled out of the primordial oceans, our planet was covered in plants. Scientists believe that the first plant forms were a blue-green algae that floated across the water's surface. It was these plants that would eventually fill the planet with the oxygen needed for other biological organisms to breathe.
Plants use a process called photosynthesis as a way to produce food for themselves. They use the energy from sunlight to create a sugar that helps regenerate their cells. The extra amounts of energy are expelled from the plants as oxygen. The sunlight is absorbed into the cells due to the pigment known as chlorophyll, which gives plants their green color.
Plants come in all shapes and sizes. They range in size from the mighty Redwoods of Northern California to the tiny Wolffia, which has been recorded as the smallest plant on Earth. Though most plants reproduce by way of seeds, flowering plants rely on birds and insects pollinate other flowers and keep the species alive. Some have seeds that attach themselves to passing animals as a way of moving from one place to another.
Though most plants use sunlight and water to gain the sustenance needed to live, some plants have found a way to feed themselves on other living beings. Plants such as the Venus Flytrap and Pitcher Plants. According to the Society of Carnivorous Plants, there are 685 varieties of carnivorous plants in 17 genera. Some varieties trap their prey between their leaves, some trap them in sticky nectar, and others trap them inside tubular "flowers".
We humans have found immense beauty in plants for thousands of years. According to historic sources, one of the original 7 Wonders of the World were the hanging gardens of Babylon. To appease his newest queen, King Nebuchadnezzar II created an elaborate garden in the middle of the desert. It was said that this garden held everything from trees to flowering plants. He had created enormous aquifers that held thousands of gallons of water, just to maintain the garden for his beloved queen.
Without plants, life as we know it would end. They provide food for us, they give us shelter and protection, but most of all, they produce the one thing that all animals need for life; oxygen. We cultivate them in our gardens and our yards, and have even created varieties to grow in our homes. They are a key piece in the puzzle of life and without that piece, everything will fall apart.