Dicotyledons are a group of flowering plants with specific features. Their primary and most distinguishing feature is the presence of two embryo leaves called cotyledons. This is the main basis for the differentiation between this set of flowering plants (dicotyledons, also called dicots) and the next set called the monocotyledons (monocots).
As mentioned above dicotyledons have two embryo lobes / leaves. Apart from that, their floral whirls exist in fours or fives. (For example, there may be four or five petals present along side four or five sepals too in a flower.) Leaf veins show a netted appearance and the vascular bundle is in the form of a ring. Dicotyledons also possess a special type of meristematic tissue known as the Cambium. The Cambium readily divides giving rise to the phloem and xylem vessels in consecutive rings. Cross section of a stem will show the many cambial rings that are present, helping botanists and agriculturalists to calculate the age of a tree.
Dicotyledons are important for a number of reasons. One of the main contributions to human life is in the form of food that man and animals consume. Pulses, cereals, legumes, nuts, fruits, vegetables, berries, tubers, and green leafy vegetables are some of the major food categories that are derived from dicotyledons and which are a source of nutrition. Oil is obtained from the nuts and seeds of plants. Pulses like grams, dal, etc are a rich source of protein. The eggplant (brinjal) among many others, is a rich source of iron. Vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower provide us with the necessary Vitamin C while carrots give us a ready supply Vitamin A. Citrus fruits are also a good source of Vitamin C.
Apart from food, dicotyledon plants are very important, in that they provide us with timber. Timber is used for furniture, houses, tools, and also for transport or accessories. Human life is so dependent on timber that consciously or unconsciously our lives revolve around it.
The contributions of dicotyledons to the world of research and medicine should not go unannounced. Herbal, Homeopathic and Ayurvedic medicine (in addition to Allopathy) use plants as their source of medicinal ingredients.
Dry plants are used as fodder and also to make for a comfortable home for animals in barns, shed, etc.
Dry wood of trees is a source of firewood for those who cannot afford the more modern methods of burning a fire.
Flowering trees (dicotyledons) are very important in the commercial world; they provide us with beautiful flowers that are used for the many occasions celebrated around the world. They also beautify our homes and gardens and give a finishing touch to resorts and parks.
Many a verse has been written about the beauty, splendor and grace of the dicot flowers. Many a traveler has benefited from the dicot trees along the roads and highways, taking refuge under its shade to avoid the scorching heat of the noonday sun. Without these plants, man’s life would not have progressed and would have been the same old pre-historic style. We owe much of our human, technological, scientific and medicinal development to this peculiar group of flowering plants; plants having two embryo leaves.