Portal:Plants

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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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Jun com cones.jpg
A juniper berry is the female seed cone produced by the various species of junipers. It is not a true berry but a cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales, which give it a berry-like appearance. The cones from a handful of species, especially Juniperus communis, are used as a spice, particularly in European cuisine, and also give gin its distinguishing flavour. According to one FAO document, juniper berries are the only spice derived from conifers, though tar and inner bark (used as a sweetener by Apache cuisines) from pine trees is sometimes considered a spice as well. All juniper species grow berries, but some are considered too bitter to eat. In addition to J. communis, other edible species include Juniperus drupacea, Juniperus oxycedrus, Juniperus phoenicea, Juniperus deppeana, and Juniperus californica. Some species, for example Juniperus sabina, are toxic and consumption is inadvisable.

Juniperus communis berries vary from four to twelve millimetres in diameter; other species are mostly similar in size, though some are larger, notably J. drupacea (20–28 mm). Unlike the separated and woody scales of a typical pine cone, those in a juniper berry remain fleshy and merge into a unified covering surrounding the seeds. The berries are green when young, and mature to a purple-black colour over about 18 months in most species, including J. communis (shorter, 8–10 months in a few species, and about 24 months in J. drupacea). The mature, dark berries are usually but not exclusively used in cuisine, while gin is flavoured with fully grown but immature green berries.

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Fractal Broccoli
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Broccoli, a plant of the Cabbage family, Brassicaceae, is a cool-weather crop eaten boiled, steamed, or raw. The Roman natural history writer, Pliny the Elder, wrote about a vegetable which might have been broccoli and some recognize broccoli in the cookbook of Apicius, but its history is unclear. Broccoli was certainly an Italian vegetable long before it was eaten elsewhere.

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