Quantcast

10 Incredible Plant Facts You Didn't Know

Food

By Kevin Mathews

1. The earth has more than 80,000 species of edible plants.

If you’re ever in the mood to try something new, the good news is that there is certainly food you haven’t tasted yet still growing somewhere in the world. You’ll probably have some trouble finding it, however, because …

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

2. 90 percent of the foods humans eat come from just 30 plants.

Out of tens of thousands of plants we could eat, mankind chooses to consume only about 30 of them. It’s crazy to contemplate how limited our diets are compared to all of the different foods we could be eating. If you think the selection of which plants we eat has anything to do with their nutritional benefits, however, you’d be wrong …

3. Nutrition doesn't factor into the crops we do mass produce.

The world’s largest farmers have pursued certain crops because they can grow a lot of them more quickly, easily and inexpensively to turn a better profit. As a result, most of the most healthful plants stay off of our dinner plates because they aren’t available at grocery stores. Still, sustenance isn’t the only thing humans rely on plants for …

4. 70,000 plant species are utilized for medicine.

As it turns out, humans are more diversified in the plants we use for medicine. Although a large portion of that figure applies to traditional medicine, modern medicine is not excepted from plant help. Half of the drugs prescribed in the U.S. have plant origins, many coming out of the rainforest, yet …

5. Only one percent of rainforest plants have been studied for medicinal potential.

Given how valuable plants can be medicinally, the rainforest houses a host of possible cures for ailments new and old. This untapped resource could still hold the key to medical breakthroughs. Of course, a lot of this potential could be lost considering …

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

6. 80 percent of the Earth's original forests have been cleared or destroyed.

The same forests that dominated the land 8,000 years ago are all but gone. Approximately four-fifths of the forests are gone thanks to human intervention—just think of how many plant species may have been lost in that process. If you thought protections were in place, actually …

7. Just 10 percent of the world's plant-rich areas are protected.

Of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, only 10 percent are officially “protected” to ensure the survival of a multitude of species—plant and animal alike. Worse still, many of the supposedly protected areas are done so nominally only, leaving plants threatened by external factors they should be safeguarded from. This is especially problematic because …

8. More than half of plant species are native to just one country.

Chances are, a plant you find in one part of the world is not currently growing anywhere else. As plant habitat is ruined, there’s little point in hoping that the killed plants could be found and harvested somewhere else in the future. For this reason …

9. 68 percent of plants are in danger of going extinct.

While scientists have only examined a fraction of the existing known plant species, of those that have been studied, 68 percent face extinction in the not too distant future. Since plants can’t just up and move as their habitat is being destroyed, they are even more vulnerable than endangered animals. It’s happening quickly, too, since …

10. Plant species are going extinct—about 5,000 times faster than they should.

Some will argue that species would go extinct even without human interference. While that’s certainly true, it’s the rate that plants are dying off that raises alarm. Thanks to climate change, deforestation and other human-influence factors, experts believe that species are going extinct somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 times faster than they would naturally.

Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERISTY and FOOD pages for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Children are forced to wear masks due to the toxic smoke from peat land fires in Indonesia. Aulia Erlangga / CIFOR

By Irene Banos Ruiz

Pediatricians in New Delhi, India, say children's lungs are no longer pink, but black.

Our warming planet is already impacting the health of the world's children and will shape the future of an entire generation if we fail to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6°F), the 2019 Lancet Countdown Report on health and climate change shows.

Read More Show Less
Private homes surround a 20 inch gas liquids pipeline which is part of the Mariner East II project on Oct. 5, 2017 in Marchwood, Penn. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

The FBI is looking into how the state of Pennsylvania granted permits for a controversial natural gas pipeline as part of a corruption investigation, the AP reports.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles. Carolina Wild Ones / Facebook

Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
The Dakota Access pipeline being built in Iowa. Carl Wycoff / CC BY 2.0

The fight between the Standing Rock Sioux and the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline is back on, as the tribe opposes a pipeline expansion that it argues would increase the risk of an oil spill.

Read More Show Less
Scanning electron micrograph of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, on proventricular spines of a Xenopsylla cheopis flea. NIAID / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less