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Video transcript

this is yaro a flowering plant found all over the northern hemisphere it's feathery leaves have natural astringent properties and its scientific name achillea comes from Achilles the Greek hero who's said to have used it on the wounds of his soldiers and this is snake grass otherwise known as horse tail or to the kids pop grass because you could just pop it apart and then put it back together again although on top there it's dead now and this is a ponderosa pine one of my favorite trees you can grow hundreds of feet tall and on a warm day if you sniff it it smells like butterscotch they all have different shapes sizes and properties that each of these things is a vascular plant one of the most diverse and dare I say important families in the Tree of Life since their predecessors first arrived at the scene some 420 million years ago vascular plants have found tremendous success through their ability to exploit resources all around them they convert sunshine into food they absorb nutrients directly through the soil without the costly process of digestion and they even enlist the help of some friends when it comes to reproduction so often when they're doing their thing it involves a third party which like you know good for them but these things alone can't explain vascular plants extraordinary evolutionary success I mean algae was photosynthesizing long before plants made it fashionable and as we learned last week nonvascular plants have reproductive strategies that are tricked out six ways from sunday so like what gives a secret to vascular plant success is their defining trait conductive tissues that can take food and water from one part of a plant to another part of a plant this may sound simple enough but the ability to move stuff from one part of an organism to another was a huge evolutionary breakthrough for vascular plants it allowed them to grow exponentially larger store food for lean times and develop some fancy features that allowed them to spread farther and faster it was one of the biggest revolutions in the history of life on Earth the result plants dominated earth long before animals even showed up and even today they hold most of the world records largest organism in the world is a redwood in Northern California a hundred and fifteen metres tall bigger than three blue whales laid end-to-end the most massive organism is a grove of quaking aspen and utah all connected by the roots weighing a total of 13 million pounds and the oldest living thing a patch of sea grass in the mediterranean dating back 200,000 years spent a lot of time congratulating ourselves on how awesomely magnificent and complex the human animal is but you guys I got to hand it to you so you know by now the more specialized tissues an organism has the more complex they are and the better they typically do but you also know that these changes don't take place overnight the tissues that define vascular plants didn't evolve all at once but today we recognize three types that make these plants what they are dermal tissues make up their outermost layers and help prevent damage and water loss vascular tissues do all that conducting of materials I just mentioned and the most abundant tissue type ground tissues carry out some of the most important functions of plant life including photosynthesis and the storage of leftover food now some points never go beyond these basics they sprout from a germinated seed develop these tissues and then stop this is called primary growth and plants that are limited to this stage are herbaceous as the name says they are like herbs small soft and flexible and typically they die down to the root or die completely after one growing season pretty much everything you see growing in a backyard garden herbs and flowers and broccoli and that kind of stuff those are herbaceous but a lot of ask Euler plants go on to secondary growth which allows them to grow not just taller but wider this is made possible by the development of additional tissues particularly woody tissues these are your woody plants which include shrubs and bark covered vines called Liana's and of course your trees but no matter how big they may or may not grow all vascular plants are organized into three main organs all of which you are intimately familiar with not just because you knew what they were when you were in second grade but also because you probably eat them every day first the root it absorbs water and nutrients and serves as a pantry of leftover food and of course keeps the plant anchored in the ground next the stem it contains structures that transport fluids and store nutrients and also is home to specialized cells called meristems that are responsible for creating new growth but the most important task is to support the last organ the leaf this of course is where the plant exchanges gases with the atmosphere and collects sunlight to manufacture food with the help of water and minerals collected through the root and sent up through the stem now each of these organs contains all three tissues which together work to absorb conduct and exploit one of the world's most important molecules water so since plants have pretty much designed around water let's follow some h2 whoa to see how plants make the most of it first as with most organisms nothing can get in or out of a plant without getting past the skin in this case the dermal tissue and smaller non-woody plants most of this is just a thin layer of cells called fittingly the epidermis naturally this is great for keeping the outside out in the inside and but the epidermis can also support some snazzy features in different parts of the plants and leaves and stems for example it often has a waxy outer layer called a cuticle that helps prevent water loss on some leaves or on pods that hold those valuable seeds the epidermis can sprout hair like structures called trichomes that help keep insects at bay and secrete toxic or sticky fluids the same secretions that make the yarrow useful for first aid for instance are also what discouraged ants from using it for lunch finally in the roots the epidermis has similar features called root hairs that maximize the root surface area for absorption just like we've seen in our own organ systems this of course is where the plants generally absorb the water they need by the way the cells that make up this dermal tissue are the most basic essential building blocks of vascular plants called parenchyma or visceral flesh cells these are the most abundant plant cells found not just in roots but also in stands leaves and flowers they're thin and flexible and can perform all kinds of functions depending on their location now after passing through the skin of the root and through its starchy cortex where outer layer water arrives in the first of two kinds of vascular tissue the xylem the xylem is main function is to carry water and dissolved minerals from the root up to the leaves but like how how wise oozes beard can plants make water defy gravity well a lot of the reason is that up top the plant is continuously evaporating water through a process called evapotranspiration as water evaporates from the leaves which I'll explain in greater detail when we get up there it creates negative pressure inside the xylem which draws more water upward plants can transpire truly staggering amounts of water and it's because of this that our atmosphere is habitable a single acre of corn gives off about 3000 gallons of water every day a large oak tree just one tree can transpire 40,000 gallons in a year only 1% of the water that plants absorb is actually used by plants mostly in photosynthesis the rest is slowly and invisi released providing one of Earth's most crucial functions transporting water from the soil into the atmosphere where then returns to the surface as rain making all life possible yeah - on that as we continue up the xylem and as we get higher in the plant we begin to encounter a greater diversity of cells designed not only for moving stuff around but also for providing structural supports for instance elongated cells with thicker cell walls called kolenka may help hold up the plant body especially in herbaceous plants and young structures like new shoots celery is mostly made up of these cells so you already know what they taste like in larger woody plants you also find sclerenchyma cells especially in the xylem these have even thicker cell walls made from lignin a super-strong polymer that makes wood woody what's weird about sclerenchyma cells though is that most of them when they reach maturity they die they just leave behind their hearty cell walls as a support structure and new cells from a fresh layer during the next growing season push the old dead layer outward and warm wet years these layers grow thick while in cold dry years they're light and thin these woody remains form tree rings which scientists can use not only to track the age of a tree but also the history of the climate that it lived in now at the top of this island water arrives at its final destination the leaf here water travels through an increasingly miniscule network of vein like structures until it's dumped into a new kind of tissue called the mesophyll as you can tell from its name meso meaning middle and fill meaning leaf this layer sits between the top and the bottom epidermis of the leaf forming the bacon in the BLT that is the leaf structure this my friends marks our entry into the ground tissue I'm I'm sure you're as excited about that as I am despite its name ground tissue isn't just in the ground and it's actually just defined as any tissue that's either not dermal or vascular regardless of this low billing though it's where the money is and the money I mean food and the Mossville is chock-full of parenchyma cells of various shapes and sizes and many of them arranged loosely to let co2 when other materials flow between them these cells contain the photosynthetic organs chloroplasts which as you know hosts the process of photosynthesis but where is this co2 coming from now some of the neatest features on the leaf are these tiny openings in the epidermis called stomata around each stoma are two guard cells connected at both ends that regulate its size and shape when conditions are dry the guard cells are limp they stick together closing the stoma but when the leaf is flush with water the guard cells plump up and bow out from each other opening the stoma to allow water to evaporate and let carbon dioxide in this is what allows evapotranspiration to take place as well as photosynthesis and you remember photosynthesis through a series of brain racking ly complicated reactions sparked by the energy from the Sun the co2 combines with hydrogen from the water to create glucose so leftover oxygen is released through the stomata and the glucose is ready for shipping I'll be paying attention you notice that earlier I said that there are two kinds of vascular tissue and here the circle is made complete as the sugar exits the leaf through the flow of the phloem is mostly made of cells stacked in tubes with perforated plates at either end after the glucose is loaded into these cells called sip cells or sieve tube elements they then absorb water from the nearby xylem to form a rich sugary SAP to transport the sugar this sweet SAP by the way is what gives the Ponderosa its delicious smell by way of internal pressure and diffusion the SAP travels wherever it's needed to parts of the plant experiencing growth during the growing season or down to the root if it's dormant like during winter where it's stored until spring so now that you understand everything that it takes for vascular plants to succeed I hope you see why plants equals winning and I'm not just talking about them sweeping the contest for biggest heaviest oldest living things though again congrats on that guys let's are not only responsible for like making rain happen they're also the first and most important link in our food chain that's why the world's most plant rich habitats like rain forests and grasslands are so crucial to our survival when those habitats change everything changes whether food supply even incidents of natural disaster so I for one welcome our plant overlords because they've done a great job so far making life on Earth possible but I know you're curious how do different kinds of plants make more plants that's all about the birds and the bees which is what we'll be talking about next week
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