Plant uses Importance of Plants

Rare plants and animals are both protected under the Endangered Species Act in both the United States and internationally by the United Nations. There are actually three categories for classifying orchids in Conference it International Trade in Endangered Species, Class 1 is extremely protected and only transported for research and special permits with 3 being common.

Unlike with animals, which most people seem to relate to, with cute faces or funny habits, any people question the need for including plants for protection. Some do have beautiful flowers or food value, but most are just green and “there”. Are they really valuable and can they be grown anywhere and any time?

The value of a plant depends upon how one defines value and upon the plant. Many plants contain toxins, and those toxins are important for medicines. At least 75% of todays medications were originally derived from plants, and all those were from the poisons! Digitalis from Foxglove is a common example, essential for heart patients. There are also cancer drugs, diabetes medications, stimulants and even aspirin for headaches, all first derived from plants. Had those plants been eradicated, many people would die much earlier or suffer a lot more!

Plants, even minor and rare species, are also important in the environment. They may be essential for some insect that later on in life pollinates something else that is important. Many of these symbiotic relationships are not known, still waiting to be discovered. Wipe out the plant, wipe out the insect, and propagate a disaster, sounds like science fiction but the potential is there.

Genetically all plants are important. The orchid may not have a beautiful flower, most are drab, but may have a gene that can help something else. Scientists today are transplanting or splicing genes to reduce the use of pesticides or make stronger, healthier plants for food and beauty.

Can those rare or endangered plants be grown anywhere? Often not. Rare are usually rare because they require specific conditions under which to grow, and mankind does not know enough to reproduce those conditions. Another plant may need to grow near by or only one species of insect can pollinate as it has the right shaped tongue. Endangered plants are those that are threatened by human activity: pesticides, excessive clearing, or even bruising by touching. They can sometimes be grown artificially, but may not be exactly the same or possess the genetic variety found in the wild.

Every living creature and plant is worthy of protection, even if just for beauty.