This Cool Science post discusses plants in motion and helps us to understand the importance of plants in our lives. Did you know that we depend on plants for life? Yes, humans depend on plants for almost everything from the oxygen we breathe, to the food we eat, lumber, natural dyes, fuel, fibers and medicine, to name a few. Even though they provide us with life, plant life remains a mystery to most of us who haven’t stopped to take the time to see how amazing these living organisms really are.
The time-lapse video below demonstrates that plants are in constant motion and show just how extraordinary they are. Their ongoing search for light, nutrients, water and their constant endeavor to protect themselves is generally not evident to the naked eye. Time-lapse however allows us to easily see these movements. Watch as they effortlessly grow, stretch and dance in almost synchronous motion. Also, note the change in light. The plants continue this motion even as available light is modified. The video was recorded in the FedNor CyberZone lab here at Science North
Some plants take only a few weeks to grow to maturity, while others can take hundreds, even thousands of years. Here in Ontario, some Northern Whitecedar (Thuja occidentalis) have been estimated to be well over a 1,000 years old. In fact, the oldest current living tree is the Great Basin bristlecone tree (Pinus longaeva), found in Inyo County, California, United States. Its verified age is 4, 843 years old. Now that is old!
Through tree ring cross-referencing, scientists can accurately determine the age of a tree. Estimating the age of a tree is another way scientists determine their age. Looking at the trees size and presumed growth rate can give an idea of how old a tree might be.
Remember that plants are living and require nutrients, energy, water and a bit of luck to grow to their full potential. So, next time you look at a tree, remember that it too is alive and is vital to our own lives. Stopping to smell the roses or just to stop and learn about them teaches us some very cool stuff. Using time-lapse to teach us about science is even cooler. Stay tuned for more time-lapse videos in the near future!
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