Sunday, April 1, 2012

Freaky Plant Science Study

Some of the world's strangest plants are ferns, mosses, algae and fungi. These plants were created for a special purpose... even though they look pretty strange.
These plants have an amazing way of reproducing. Have you ever looked at the back side of a fern leaf? Their seeds are in spore cases along the back side of the leaves. Ferns roots are also called rhizoids and they grow downward from the other side of the stem while the leaves of the fern grow upward.
Investigate these amazing plants by taking a walk in the woods - find one growing in nature and see where their seeds are and how their root system is growing.
These are the beautiful green carpet that you see out in the woods. They are a network of plants that grow sideways and therefore spread out from themselves. They can be found in cold climates as well as hot climates. They also can grow on rocks and in damp places. Mosses are essential to our ecosystem because they hold the soil and don't let it erode away.
You know that slimy stuff that grows on a stagnant pond? You got it... that's algae! It is found all over the world, and grows in soil, trees, and even on turtles and frogs. There are various types of algae such as diatoms, flagellates, and group algae. Algae are useful for practical things such as thickeners for pudding, mayonnaise, and marshmallows.
Ever seen some green fuzzy stuff in your fridge? That's our friend the fungi. Most fungi feed on dead or dying matter. There are some fungi that prefer to feed on living matter - we would call these parasites! Molds and mildews such as what we find in the fridge are started as tin thread like structures called hyphae. These then grow spore cases that will often burst open. When these burst the spores can float on the air. If they land on food, and the food is left out - mold will begin to grow. Mildew is similar except that it grows on damp things like clothes and in our showers. Mushrooms are a fungi that have a large spore producing body... the mushroom's cap. The spores are hidden underneath among the gills of the mushroom waiting to drop out when they are ready. Yeast, slime molds, and lichens are all members of this freaky plant group! Take a few minutes to explore and discover what yeast does for each of us every day!

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