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Uses of plants

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Plants play a critical role in the health and vitality of the planet and everything in it. The following highlights the important role that plants play in our everyday lives :


Plants use the carbon dioxide that animals exhale. This symbiotic relationship creates a balance that encourages animals to care for plants and for plants to provide for their needs.

Food and fodder

Plants are a source of nutrition for both animals and humans. Different parts of a plant can provide humans and animals with different types of food material. Wild and domestic and animals use wild plants and crops as fodder and humans get fruits, vegetables, grains, spices, oils, sugar, etc. from plants.    


Plant material are a source of various kinds of beverages. For example, coconut water can be obtained from the plant Cocos nucifera. Edible fruits are used to make a juices, beers, ciders, and wine as well as wine cork and spirits. Plant leaves and seeds are also used to make coffee and tea.


Plants are used to provide materials for making different kinds of clothing. For example, Cannabis sativa (hemp fabric) is a textile used to make clothes and bags. Gossypium herbaceum (Levant cotton) is type of fibre grown in southern Africa. Linum usitatissimum (flax) is fibre that is used to make yarn. Boehmeria nivea (ramie) is a fibre plant used n Chinese textile industry.


Animals use plants for shelter. For example, animals (such as birds) make their home by burrowing into trees. Other animals use the leaves, twigs, and branches of plants to construct their home. Other plants and parasites, such as epiphytes, grow on other plants for shelter and support. 

Construction and building

Humans use the wood from plants in construction to build structural timber such as, roof trusses, supporting beams, joists, rafters, and poles. Plant material is also used for thatching.


Plants are used as raw material in transportation and logistics. For example, wood is used to build railway sleepers, boats & ships, wagons, trailers, skateboards


the wood in plants is used to make indoor and outdoor furniture flooring   

Household items

plants provide material for thatching and weaving baskets, straw hats and bags, and food serving mats and sleeping mats mang brooms. 

Tools and instruments

the wood from plants is used to make utensils, tools, handles, and musical instruments.   


the wood from plants is also used to make toys for children. Some hallucinogenic plants are taken as recreational drugs.     


the wood from plants is used to make fuelwood. You have things like  wood chips, sawdust, peat, and paper to start a fire and briquette, charcoal, and firewood to keep it going. 


plants can be used to enhance the aesthetics of a property.   


plants can also be used as windbreaks and fences. The added benefit of hedging is the reduction in noise pollution.        

Ameliorate the soil

plants are often introduced in certain areas to improve and enhance the condition of the soil. For example, certain plants, such as the acacias, are planted to rehabilitate the sand dunes.    

Water purification

plants have been used in water purification and wastewater treatment. Plants like the moringa tree and certain oak trees like Quercus cerris, Q. robur, and Q. rubra, are used to cleanse and purify water.   

Essential oils

certain plants are used to extract natural oils through steam distillation. These oils are typically extracted from the flowers, leaves, fruits, stem, and roots.


plants are used primarily in traditional medicine to treat a wide range of conditions.   


plants are also used as love and protective charms. plants have been used as talismans, amulets, and charms for protection against lightning, evil, and negative energies. They have also been used to attract love, opportunities, and good fortune.

References and further reading:

  • Sivaranjani, S. and Rakshit, A., 2016. Indigenous Materials for Improving Water Quality. Nature Environment and Pollution Technology, 15(1), p.171.

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