50 Essential Facts About Plants

The 50 facts that you MUST know on your way to becoming an expert botanist!

Caffeine is a pick-me-up found in tea and coffee plantsMedicines
The painkiller aspirin comes from the willow tree
Cocaine is used as an anaesthetic. It comes from the coca plant
Digitalis is a heart drug which we get from the foxglove
Morphine is the strongest painkiller and it comes from the poppy
The biggest flower grows to over a metre wideLargest
The largest seed is the "double coconut"
The tallest plant is the sequoia. It can get up to 85 metres tall
The widest tree is a kind of cypress that grows in Mexico
The world's largest vegetable is the pumpkin
The world’s smallest flowering plant is the watermeal, a type of duckweedSmallest
The smallest species of tree is the dwarf willow
The smallest species of cactus is blossfeldia liliputana
The smallest fruit comes from the watermeal too
The smallest fern is less than 1 cm in size
Apple seeds contain the lethal poison cyanideToxic
One leaf of Oleander can be enough to kill you
Belladonna (beautiful lady) is also known as deadly nightshade
Castor oil is good for us, but the plant it is from can cause internal bleeding
Common in gardens, daffodils are poisonous
Mosses have been on Earth the longest - 470 million years or soOldest
A seagrass meadow off Ibiza is 100,000 years old
The Great Basin Bristlecone Pine is over 5,000 years old
The UK's oldest tree is a yew in Scotland. It's thousands of years old
The Major Oak in Sherwood Forest is at least 1,000 years old
In 17th Century Holland tulips were more valuable than goldFlowers
The first flowers appeared on Earth 125 million years ago
Sunflowers move throughout the day so they are always facing the sun
As well as sunflowers, there are moonflowers which only bloom at night
The luxury spice, saffron, comes from the crocus flower
There are about 600 species of carnivorous plantCarnivores
The Venus’ flytrap is the most famous meat-eating plant
Victims of the pitcher plant fall into a pool of digestive juices
Most carnivorous plants eat insects but some eat reptiles and mammals
The oldest known carnivorous plant was around about 47 million years ago
A quarter of all plants on Earth are grassesGrass
Grasses grow on every continent - even Antarctica
Grasses, with their densely packed roots, help to prevent soil erosion
The tallest grass is bamboo. It can grow up to 45 metres high!
Many of the foods we eat (bread, cereal, rice etc.) come from grasses
A vegetable is any part of a plant that is eaten but is not fruit or seedVegetables
A tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable
Almost 400 million tonnes of potatoes are grown each year
Onions make us cry because they contain sulphur compounds
Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and sprouts are all the same species
Weeds are any plants that people do not want to growWeeds
Many weeds are edible. Dandelions and nettles can both be eaten
The most successful weeds are ones that produce a lot of seeds
The thistle is a weed, but it helped the Scots to defeat the Vikings
Velcro was inspired by the weed burdock

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