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Chances are, you can thank a plant for your clothes, your food, and even your house. This lesson will explore the kingdom plantae including characteristics plants share as well as some facts and examples of organisms within this kingdom.

Definition of Kingdom Plantae

There are creatures living among us that use air and water to make sugar! Sounds magical, doesn’t it? You probably take them for granted, but you shouldn’t.

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They make the air you breathe, the food you eat, the fiber for your clothes, dyes for fabrics, the building materials for your house and the legs for your table. I could keep going but you get the idea. Kingdom plantae is one of six kingdoms of organisms, and it includes every plant you could imagine from the moss growing on the forest floor to the mighty, towering fir trees.

The Six Kingdoms

Taxonomists, or scientists who classify organisms, continually modify and adjust the classification system as new species are discovered.

Here is a list of the five other kingdoms with one example organism, just so you can get an idea how plants compare.

  • Animalia: this is you and me and all other animals
  • Protista: this is the paramecium you might find in pond water
  • Fungi: the mushrooms on your pizza
  • Eubacteria: these are the bacteria growing on your skin
  • Archaebacteria: these are the bacteria living in extreme conditions, like the salty Great Salt Lake in Utah

Characteristics of the Kingdom Plantae

What makes plants unique from the other kingdoms, and how can moss and a fir tree be in the same kingdom? Kingdoms are grouped based on shared characteristics, and plants have quite a few.Plants are autotrophs, meaning they can make their own food. Animals, in contrast, are heterotrophs, so they must consume other organisms for food.

Plants make their own food through a process called photosynthesis where the plant takes carbon dioxide gas, water and light and transforms these three ingredients into sugar and oxygen.

The process of photosynthesis
photosynthesis

Remember, carbon dioxide from the air and water from the roots and energy from the sun combine to make oxygen and sugar.Most plants are multicellular, meaning they are made up of more than one cell. Simple organisms, like bacteria, are unicellular meaning their whole body consists of just one cell. Plants are eukaryotes, which means their cells are more complex than those of prokaryotes (bacteria).

Plants have cell walls, which is an additional structure that makes the cells more rigid. Plants are sessile, which means they can’t move around.

Facts and Examples in Kingdom Plantae

There are over 250,000 species that make up the kingdom plantae, which is the second largest kingdom after the animal kingdom. When you think of a plant, that green stuff that grows inside your fish tank probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but algae is in the kingdom plantae.

In fact, there are over 12,000 different species of algae: some brown, some green and some red. And you thought all plants were green! Typically, plants are green due to chlorophyll, or green pigment that helps the plant get energy from the sun. In the case of some of the algae, the chlorophyll combines with other pigments to make the red or brown. Algae are an important piece of the food chain in marine and freshwater environments.

Algae
algae

Another group of plants, bryophytes, live on land but are still not what you think of when you hear the word plant. These include mosses, hornworts and liverworts and include 16,000 species.

They have root-like structures but no leaves or stems.I could go on and on (remember there are thousands of different types of plants) but I will finish up with two familiar groups: gymnosperms and angiosperms. Both of these groups produce seeds, but gymnosperms do not produce flowers or fruit, whereas angiosperms have flowers.

Gymnosperms include pine trees, spruce trees and fir trees. Angiosperm examples include roses, fruit trees or anything you can think of that produces a flower or fruit. In fact, angiosperms make up 80% of the green plants in the kingdom plantae.

You can thank an angiosperm for the fruit you ate this morning for breakfast!
fruit

Lesson Summary

Without plants, life could not exist on Earth.

They produce oxygen for us to breathe and they are an important piece of the food chain, producing food for many organisms. Although plants vary in appearance, from the water-loving algae to the flowering raspberry bushes growing in your yard, they have several characteristics in common:

  • Most have multicellular (some algae is unicellular), eukaryotic cells with cell walls
  • Plants can’t move like animals, so they are sessile
  • Plants are autotrophs, meaning they make their own food through photosynthesis

You might not realize how important plants are, but stop and think about what’s around you. Chances are it’s created from a plant: from the desk you’re sitting at to the chair you’re sitting in to the orange you’re munching to the air you’re breathing.

Learning Outcomes

Once you are finished with this lesson, you should be able to:

  • Name the six kingdoms of organisms
  • State the characteristics of organisms in Kingdom Plantae
  • Explain the difference between gymnosperms and angiosperms

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