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Photosynthesis in a flowering plantPhotosynthesis in a flowering plant The second largest kingdom of living things after animals is the plants. The key feature of a plant which sets it apart from other living things is that it obtains energy by the process of photosynthesis. All plants take in sunlight and carbon dioxide from the air which they combine with water to make sugars, their food. A plant is made up of millions of microscopic cells, in which thousands of chemical changes take place as part of the plant’s life processes. Like an animal’s body, a typical plant has many specialized parts for different jobs. The roots take in water, minerals, salts and other vital nutrients from the soil in which the plant grows. The stiff stem holds the main parts of the plant above the ground so that the leaves can catch the maximum amount of sunlight. Plants are divided into two main kinds: the simpler types without flowers, and those with flowers. The study of plants is called botany.

Heathland plants, TasmaniaHeathland plants, Tasmania

Mosses and liverworts

Mosses and liverworts are types of non-flowering plants called bryophytes. They reproduce by making tiny, dust-like spores which grow into new plants. A moss has small green leaflets but no proper stem or roots. It absorbs water and nutrients through its leaflets so it can only live in damp places. Liverworts grow in similar places. Each has a low, flattened body known as a thallus.

LiverwortLiverwort Mosses and liverworts, along with the algae, are called non-vascular plants: they lack roots and stems, and so have no tube-like vessels inside them to transport water and nutrients around the plant. All other plants are known as vascular plants.

Some species of bamboo grow nearly 1 m (3 ft) a day. You can almost watch them grow.

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