Plants are evil

Okay, okay. That's a slight exaggeration. What I suppose I mean is that plants have their own agenda. Often people seem to think that anything from a plant is good. Vegetarians, especially city bred ones, are often guilty of this. The all-natural folk also. There seems to be the thinking that if it comes from a plant then since it's all-natural it must be good for you.

Plants are basically chemical factories that take inorganic sources of carbon and using photosynthesis for energy conduct endothermic chemical reactions to build new compounds. Some of these compounds are beneficial to humans. Food, medicine, dyes, even cosmetics. But the important thing to remember is that the plant has a reason to produce this chemical and it's not to help humans. If it does, it's purely incidental. It's not just animals and microbes that plants are warring against in their chemical fashion. We're more often than not just innocent bystanders. The main target of this chemical warfare is other plants. Those are the ones competing for limited resources like sun, water, and space for their roots.

Drugs like taxol, from the bark of the Pacific Yew tree or camptothecin from an ornamental Chinese tree are good examples. These chemicals help their respective producers kill organisms that are attacking them. We humans can extract the chemical from the plant, concentrate it, and then use it to kill similar microarganisms that plague our populations. It's very helpful to have the plant do the heavy lifting for us, but make no mistake--the plant is acting for itself and its actions can just as easily poison the unwary human. Of course most of us don't chew on Yew trees.

My point is simple. Don't let the love of nature and 'natural' things blind you to the fact that there's a reason that plants are conducting chemical warfare and we animals are often the target. In other words, don't eat those red berries unless you're very sure exactly what they are.

Comments

GPV said…
Some plants don't get along with other plants,I've noticed.They have a kind of chemical war with other species.
You can't have them close to each other,they fight and deperish.
Nattie said…
Wow, yes plants are evil...I must remember to peel the skin off those waxy apples, and wash these tomatoes with LYSOL thoroughly. You never know what goes into the soil.
GPV, what do u mean by "deperish"
is it a hybrid French word for "de perish" the art of perishing?
GPV said…
Yes Himiko, now that you tell me,it could be I "englisized" that word.It means; getting worse,or to get gradually to the point of death
(To loose health)-(sickening).

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