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THIS MONTH’S TOPIC: BOTANY

By: Professor Noe Ital [aka: Know-it-all]



Do plants grow better if you talk to them?

This has been a topic of debate among scientists for centuries. Many studies have been done, and though no consistent conclusion has yet been established, there has been evidence to suggest that plants that “hear” the sound of a human voice are more likely to grow than those that don’t. One reason given is that when you sing or talk to your plant, you are expelling carbon dioxide directly onto the plant, and carbon dioxide is what plants need to absorb in order to go through the process of photosynthesis and grow.

Some studies have also suggested that certain types of music are more productive for a plant’s growth.

Although scientists today have not been able to conclusively deduce whether or not plants benefit from sound, our Sages did not have a problem figuring this out. In the Gemara (Krisus 6b), our Sages discuss the effects that sound has on plants.

What types of products are made from plants?

Most people are aware that paper products are made from plants. You may already know that many medicines are derived from plants. But you might be surprised to learn how many of our everyday products are also made from plants.

Items made from plants include molded plastics, body care products, bedding, oils, dyes, perfume, insulation, clothing, furniture, tires…. The list goes on and on.  Below are just two examples of specific plants and the products that we get from them.

COTTON – The cotton shrub produces seedpods that burst open to reveal masses of fluffy cotton fibers. These fibers are harvested to produce cotton yarn and textiles.

HENNA – Henna is a shrub that grows in the Middle East and North Africa. Its leaves are harvested for their reddish-brown pigment. This is used to dye clothes and hair.

What are flowering plants?

Flowering plants are the most successful and most numerous plants on Earth and can be found just about anywhere on the planet. Flowering plants are divided into two groups: monocots and dicots.

Monocots usually have narrow leaves and three (or multiples of three) petals. Examples include lilies, palms, and orchids.

Dicotshave broad leaves with a central vein that connects to a smaller network of veins. They have four or five (or multiples of four or five) petals. Examples include magnolias, buttercups, and poppies.

QUESTION OF THE MONTH:

This month’s question was submitted by Isaac of Brooklyn, NY.

Dear Professor, How high can a cactus grow?

The Cardon cactus of Baja California, Mexico is the world’s tallest cactus species. This cactus can grow over sixty feet high!