Portal:Plants

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Diversity of plants image version 5.png
Plants are a major group of life forms and include familiar organisms such as trees, herbs, shrubs, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. About 350,000 species of plants, defined as seed plants, bryophytes, ferns and fern allies, are estimated to exist currently. As of 2004, some 287,655 species had been identified, of which 258,650 are flowering and 15,000 bryophytes. Green plants, sometimes called metaphytes, obtain most of their energy from sunlight via a process called photosynthesis.

Aristotle divided all living things between plants (which generally do not move), and animals (which often are mobile to catch their food). In Linnaeus' system, these became the Kingdoms Vegetabilia (later Metaphyta or Plantae) and Animalia (also called Metazoa). Since then, it has become clear that the Plantae as originally defined included several unrelated groups, and the fungi and several groups of algae were removed to new kingdoms. However, these are still often considered plants in many contexts, both technical and popular. Indeed, an attempt to perfectly match "plant" with a single taxon is problematic, because for most people the term plant is only vaguely related to the phylogenic concepts on which modern taxonomy and systematics are based.

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Cordyline australis (Asparagaceae)
Cordyline australis, commonly known as the cabbage tree, is a widely branched monocot tree endemic to New Zealand. It grows up to 20 metres (66 ft) tall with a stout trunk and sword-like leaves, which are clustered at the tips of the branches and can be up to 1 metre (3 ft) long. With its tall, straight trunk and dense, rounded heads, C. australis is a characteristic feature of the New Zealand landscape. Its fruit is a favourite food source for the New Zealand pigeon and other native birds. It is common over a wide latitudinal range from the far north of the North Island at 34°25'S to the south of the South Island at 46°30'S. Absent from much of Fiordland, it was probably introduced by Māori to the Chatham Islands at 44°00'S and to Stewart Island at 46°50'S. It grows in a broad range of habitats, including forest margins, river banks and open places, and is abundant near swamps. The largest known tree with a single trunk is growing at Pakawau, Golden Bay. It is estimated to be 400 or 500 years old, and stands 17 metres (56 ft) tall with a circumference of 9 metres (30 ft) at the base.

Known to Māori as tī kōuka, the tree was used as a source of food, particularly in the South Island, where it was cultivated in areas where other crops would not grow. It provided durable fibre for textiles, anchor ropes, fishing lines, baskets, waterproof rain capes and cloaks, and sandals. Hardy and fast growing, C. australis is widely planted in New Zealand gardens, parks and streets, and numerous cultivars are available. The tree can also be found in large numbers in island restoration projects such as Tiritiri Matangi Island, where it was among the first seedling trees to be planted.

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Seed-head of Pulsatilla alpina (Ranunculaceae)
Cscr-featured.svg Credit: SiameseTurtle

Pulsatilla alpina, alpine pasqueflower, is an alpine plant found in the mountain ranges of central and southern Europe from central Spain to Croatia. It grows between 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) and 2,700 m (8,900 ft) above sea level, and is mildly toxic.

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