Natural History

Life Episodes: Plants

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Plants are dependent on three main elements for survival: sunlight, water and nutrients. They're fiercely competitive and cunningly opportunistic.

Sunlight is a rare commodity on the forest floor, so aggressive climbers such as Boston ivy and cats-claw creeper use other plants as a ladder to get to the light.

More than 20,000 different kinds of plants spend their entire life in the forest canopy, getting their nutrients by trapping dead leaves in their roots. Where there is little rain, plants find clever ways of capturing and retaining water.

The dragon's blood tree survives in a rocky desert solely on moisture from mist, while other plants, such as the desert rose, lose their leaves to stop evaporation and carefully store water in their trunks.

Carnivorous plants, like the sundew and Venus flytrap, set clever snares for unsuspecting insects and pounce without mercy.

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