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Biology for Kids

Plant Defenses

From the smallest insect to the largest mammal, most animals eat plants. These animals are called herbivores. At first, you may think that plants just lay there and get eaten. They certainly can't get up and run away! However, plants have many defenses to help them survive.

Two Types of Defenses

There are two main types of plant defenses: constitutive and induced. Cell Walls and Cuticle

Just like us, plants can get diseases that can make them sick and die. In order to keep pathogens and small bacteria from getting inside, plants have rigid cell walls. They also have a waxy cuticle on the outside of their leaves that protects them.

Bark

Plants also have to defend against insects. Many trees and bushes have a thick bark on their branches and stems that keeps insects outside. Bark has many layers and the outside of the bark is dead and hard. This keeps all but the most determined insects from boring into the trunk of the tree.

Thorns

Some plants use thorns to protect themselves from being eaten by larger animals. Thorns can poke and bother an animal enough to get it to move on to another plant. Some examples of thorns include the thorns on the stem of a rose bush and the spines on a cactus. Certain types of cactus spines can be especially dangerous as they have barbs that stick to the skin and are not easy to remove.

Chemical Defenses

Plants often develop chemicals that act as poisons making an animal sick or even killing it. Over time, animals learn not to eat the poisonous plants. Some common poisonous plants include daffodil bulbs, poison ivy, wisteria, foxglove, and chrysanthemums.

Sometimes plants are able to detect when they are being attacked by certain insects. They will emit chemicals that attract predators to the animals that are attacking it.

Bad Taste

One way to keep from being eaten is to taste bad. Many plants use chemicals to give them a bitter taste. If a better tasting plant is nearby, then the animal will move on.

Carnivorous Plants

Some plants have actually turned the tables on insects and not only defend against them, but eat them. One example is the venus flytrap which has a trap that looks like leaves. If a fly, or other insect, happens upon its leaves, it will quickly snap the trap close and then release enzymes to digest the insect.

Interesting Facts about Plant Defenses Activities

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More Biology Subjects

Cell
The Cell
Cell Cycle and Division
Nucleus
Ribosomes
Mitochondria
Chloroplasts
Proteins
Enzymes

The Human Body
Human Body
Brain
Nervous System
Digestive System
Sight and the Eye
Hearing and the Ear
Smelling and Tasting
Skin
Muscles
Breathing
Blood and Heart
Bones
List of Human Bones
Immune System
Organs

Nutrition
Nutrition
Vitamins and Minerals
Carbohydrates
Lipids
Enzymes

Genetics
Genetics
Chromosomes
DNA
Mendel and Heredity
Hereditary Patterns
Proteins and Amino Acids

Plants
Photosynthesis
Plant Structure
Plant Defenses
Flowering Plants
Non-Flowering Plants
Trees
Living Organisms
Scientific Classification
Animals
Bacteria
Protists
Fungi
Viruses

Disease
Infectious Disease
Medicine and Pharmaceutical Drugs
Epidemics and Pandemics
Historical Epidemics and Pandemics
Immune System
Cancer
Concussions
Diabetes
Influenza


Science >> Biology for Kids





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