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Plant, any member of the plant kingdom, comprising about 260,000 known species of mosses, liverworts, ferns, herbaceous and woody plants, bushes, vines, trees, and various other forms that mantle the Earth and are also found in its waters. Plants range in size and complexity from small, nonvascular mosses, which depend on direct contact with surface water, to giant sequoia trees, the largest living organisms, which can draw water and minerals through their vascular systems to elevations of more than 100 m (330 ft).. read more

Importance of trees

Importance of trees
Perhaps the most important ecological function of trees is protecting the land against erosion, the wearing away of topsoil due to wind and water. The trunks and branches of trees provide protection from the wind, and tree roots help solidify soil in times of heavy rain. In addition, trees and forests store water reserves that act as buffers for the ecosystem during periods of drought. In many areas the removal of forests has resulted in costly floods and subsequent droughts. Trees and forests also provide habitat, protection, and food for many plant and animal species. In addition, they play an important role in global climate and atmosphere regulation—the leaves of trees absorb carbon dioxide in the air and produce oxygen that is necessary for life.

Trees have many economic uses. Lumber from trees is the most widely used material in the building of homes and other structures. Many trees yield edible fruits and nuts such as oranges, grapefruits, apples, avocados, peaches, pecans, hickory nuts, and almonds. Trees and their fruits are also the source of many commercial waxes and oils, including olive oil and coconut oil. Tree trunks are tapped for sap, which is used in making such products as maple syrup, rubber, and turpentine. The barks of certain trees are sources of cork and spices. Many trees yield important medicines, such as quinine. The bark of the yew tree is the source of the drug taxol, which in 1992 was approved for treating ovarian cancer.

Chemical materials produced by trees are used in tanning leather and in the manufacture of inks, medicines, dyes, and wood alcohol. In addition, trees are used in landscaping homes, parks, and highways. In regions with extreme climates, they serve as windbreaks or as shade against the sun.


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