Botany

How many species of plants are there in the world?

We are extremely lucky to live in a world where life, both animal and plant, exists in much of the globe. The two kingdoms coexist in harmony, often creating symbiotic relationships to help them better adapt to their natural habitat.

But have you ever wondered how many species of plants there are? That is a very interesting question, without a doubt, that finally has an answer, although we do not know if it is definitive .

How many species are there in the world?

In 2011 a team of scientists wanted to know how many species had been discovered to date, and they succeeded. At the moment, it is known that there are 8.7 million, of which 6.5 million are terrestrial and 2.2 million aquatic. Of that incredible number, 7.77 million are animal species, 298,000 plant species and 611,000 fungal species. However, according to expert estimates, approximately 86% of terrestrial species and 91% of marine species have yet to be discovered.

What does this mean? Well, basically, we know very little about the different forms of life that inhabit this beautiful planet, the only one to date that we know that harbors life. It is therefore not surprising that from time to time the discovery of a new animal or plant species is announced.

What types of plants are there?

There are several types: trees, palms, conifers, shrubs, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses… Each of them has its own characteristics that make them unique, but they all have something in common: they carry out photosynthesis ; that is, they transform the sun’s energy into food. In doing so, they release oxygen, without which none of us would be here today.

That is why we are going to show you some examples of plants, so that you too can be surprised at how wonderful the Plant Kingdom can be.

But what are its main features?

Algae

The evolutionary history of plants began with the appearance of algae, first the unicellular ones, which are those that are made up of a single cell, and later the multicellular ones appeared. Where they live? Well, in the past they only lived in the sea, but as they developed, increasingly complex species appeared, producing stems capable of photosynthesis outside of seawater… but very close to it.

It is believed that the first algae, the so-called Archaeplastida, appeared a little more than 1,500 million years ago, while the red algae, which were the ones that diversified to give rise to the species we know today, are of about 1,200 million years ago. years.

Types of algae species

These are some:

Chondrus crispus

Image – Wikimedia/ Chondrus crispus

At the Chondrus crispus is known as Irish moss is a type of red algae native to the Atlantic coasts of both Europe and North America. Its false leaves arise from a highly branched stem, and all of it is reddish in color.

Ulva lactuca

Image – Wikimedia/ H. Krisp

Known as lamilla or sea lettuce, Ulva lactuca is an alga with a laminar green thallus (false leaf in the form of a sheet), lobed and with two layers of cells that is fixed to the soil by means of rhizoids. It grows to measure 18cm in length by more than 30cm in width.

Moss

Mosses, whose maximum height is 10 centimeters, are very curious plants. In a strict sense, they are a type of non-vascular bryophyte plants (that is, they do not have vessels inside, unlike all the others that we are going to see), made up of green leaves… only if it rains.

For this reason, we find them on the roofs of houses, rocks, walls, walls, tree trunks,… wherever there is a little water for a more or less prolonged time.

Types of moss species

These are some:

Polytrichum strictum

Image – Wikimedia/ Helenaanna

At the Polytrichum strictum is known as hair moss, wheat or wheat bird dove, and presents numerous hairs that cover it. The leaves are pointed and are arranged in a straight spiral around a rigid stem, which reaches a height of 4 to 20 centimeters.

Sphagnum fallax

Image – Wikimedia/ Helenaanna

Known as sphagnum moss, or sphagnum, the Sphagnum fallax is a plant native to the Northern Hemisphere, consisting of a main pseudostem from which branches arise in fascicles, with 2-3 extended branches, and 2-4 hanging green branches.

Herbs

When we speak of herbs we usually refer to the “weed”, or the grass of the field. But, what if I told you that they can be classified according to their type of leaf, and that that is just a differentiation from many others that can be made? Don’t worry, I’m not going to complicate it:

There are two types of herbs: those with a narrow leaf, which are graminoids (grasses) like all those that can be used for grass, for example, and those with a broad leaf, which are called forbias. Within this last group we find the megaforbias or giant herbs, which is where palm trees or muses (banana trees) come in.

Their life expectancy therefore varies greatly:

  • Annuals: germinate, grow, flower, fruit and die in a year (somewhat less actually). Examples: corn, melon, pea.
  • Biennial: during the first year they germinate and grow, and the second they bloom, produce fruit and die. Examples: foxglove, parsley, spinach, or carrot.
  • Vivacious or perennial: they are those that live 3 years or more (certain palm trees even exceed a century of life). Depending on the type of plant species, it can start to flower as early as the first year of life, or much later. For example, the date palm produces its first flowers at 5-7 years if conditions are favorable, but the geranium can flower within a few months of planting (I speak from experience). Examples: carnation, gazania, bird of paradise, palm trees, bromeliads and bulbous, among others.

Herbaceous plant species

We show you the following:

Cucumis melo

The Cucumis melo, known as melon, and is an herbaceous annual cycle native Iran, Anatolia and the Caucasus. It develops creeping stems, with palmate leaves that produce yellow flowers and, behind them, fruits that are spherical to ellipsoidal berries suitable for human consumption.

Digitalis purpurea

The species Digitalis purpurea, known as foxglove, foxglove, viluria, or gauntlet, is a biennial herb native to Europe, Northwest Africa, and Central and Western Asia. It develops a long stem between 0.50 and 2.5 meters high, from which toothed, simple and alternate leaves sprout. The flowers are grouped in hanging racemes and are tubular, deep pink on the outside and purple on the inside.

Gazania rigens

The gazania or Gazania rigens, is a perennial or perennial plant native to South Africa and Mozambique that reaches a maximum height of 30 centimeters. The leaves are elongated, green on the upper side and whitish on the underside. The flowers resemble daisies, opening only when there is sun.

Ferns

Ferns are considered living fossils, since they appeared about 420 million years ago. These are a type of vascular plants that do not produce seeds (but spores), rhizomatous, and with large leaves that are known as fronds or megaphils, usually pinnate, greenish or variegated in color. The height is variable depending on the species: they can grow only up to 20 centimeters in height, or they can exceed 5 meters like arborescent ferns which, as their name suggests, are those that have an arboreal shape by developing a false trunk.

Its natural habitat is usually the forests and tropical jungles, especially, under the shade provided by the trees, and where the environmental humidity is high.

Fern species

We show you these:

Cyathea arborea

Image – Wikimedia/ Xemenendura

Known as the giant fern or shrimp stick, the Cyathea arborea

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