The Green Kingdom
Florae, or plants, are one of the foundations of our earth. They clean the air, sustain life, and beautify our world. Plants help make our planet the paradise it is in a variety of ways.
The kingdom Plantae is comprised of the only living organisms that can convert energy from the sun into food, through photosynthesis. This green kingdom makes our air breathable by consuming carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen during photosynthesis. It directly or indirectly feeds all living creatures. Kingdom Plantae enriches the soil and helps hold it together. It provides clothing and building materials, fuel, and medicine and helps moderate temperature and climate.
The green kingdom consists of four groups which basically include mosses and liverworts, ferns, cone plants, and flowering plants. Flowering plants include annuals, perennials, and biennials. Annuals live for only one growing season and propagate by self-seeding. They often have long bloom times with bright, showy flowers. Examples of annuals are sweet alyssums, zinnias, marigolds, larkspurs, bachelor buttons, wheats, rice, and watermelons.
Perennials live for more than two growing seasons and reproduce through seeds, vegetative cloning, or both. Perennials generally have much shorter bloom times than annuals, instead investing energy into growth, before going dormant. Perennials include birds of paradise, daylilies, cattails, chives, strawberries, Irises, goldenrods, and kiwis.
Biennials complete their life cycle in two years. Flowers and seeds are usually not produced until the second year. Examples of biennials include hollyhocks, foxgloves, sweet williams, parsleys, carrots, and onions. Some perennials and biennials, such as petunias, dahlias, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers are grown as annuals in harsh or non-native climates.
Shade plants can be defined as those that provide shade to faunae or other florae or that require less than four hours of direct sunlight per day, states Dennis Sons, owners of Tn Nursery . There are also partial shade plants that need four to six hours of sunlight per day. Trees are often used to shade homes, and reduce energy costs, or provide a cool spot to sit in. Companion crops may be used to shade plants that benefit from cover, such as coffees, vanillas, and leaf lettuces.
Florae that thrive in shade often grow in wooded areas or northern exposures. Shade-loving florae are more efficient at harvesting low levels of sunlight. Leaves tend to be broad and thin to catch more light, contain more chlorophyll, and better utilize far-red light wavelengths reflected by sun-loving florae. Mosses and ferns are examples of shade-dependent florae.
Some florae falls between sun and shade loving. For example, many tropical vines, such as Philodendrons, initially grow away from light, which helps them find a tree. They then grow up the tree until the upper shoots and leaves of the vine reach full sun. Other florae that thrive in part shade include forget-me-nots, bleeding hearts, wild ginger, Hostas, Hellebores, and Polemoniums.
The kingdom Plantae is essential to life as we know it. Without vegetation, Earth would be just another barren planet.