Plantae is the kingdom that contains organisms commonly referred to as plants. Similar to animals, plants are also multi-cellular eukaryotes. Organisms within Plantae have cell walls containing cellulose and their cells also contain chlorophyll. They also tend to be autotrophs that typically use photosynthesis to create energy (food) for themselves. However, there are some parasitic and carnivorous plants that don’t rely, or don’t fully rely, on photosynthesis that still are classed within Plantae.
The Sausage tree: Kigelia Africana
The African Sausage tree is a flowering plant found across tropical Africa. It is a tree known to grow up to 20m tall. Due to its interesting fruits, the trees may be found in ornamental gardens in other parts of the world, outside of their native range.
The African Sausage tree is named after its sausage-shaped fruits that can be up to 60cm (2 feet) long and weigh around 6-7kg (15lbs). The fruits are eaten by several species of African mammals and this creates a pathway for the seeds to travel and disperse, often in the dung of these animals.
Some parts of the plant have been shown to have various medicinal properties, making it feasible to be used in the treatment of several different conditions. (Agyare et al, 2013 & Atawodi and Olowoniyi, 2015).
Another interesting additional note is that the scents of the tree’s flowers are strongest at night, suggesting that the tree has adapted in order to be pollinated by bats (Ayensu, 1974 & Baker, 1961), although some birds and insect pollinators will also be attracted to the flowers and pollinate, particularly in areas without many or any bats.
This plant is not listed as threatened.
Agyare, C, Dwobeng, A.S., Agyepong, N, Boakye, Y.D., Mensah, K.B., Ayande, P.G. & Adarkwa-Yiadom, M 2013, “Antimicrobial, Antioxidant and Wound Healing Properties of Kigelia Africana (Lam.) Benth. and Strophanthus hispidus DC.”, Advances in Pharmacological Sciences, Vol. 2013.
Atawodi, S.E. & Olowoniyi, O.D. 2015, “Pharmalogical and Thereputic Activities of Kigelia Africana (Lam.) Benth”, Annual Research & Review in Biology, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 1-17.
Ayensu, E.S 1974, “Plant and Bat Interactions in West Africa”, Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, Vol. 61, No. 3, pp. 702-727
Baker, H.G 1961, “The Adaptation of Flowering Plants to Nocturnal and Crepuscular Pollinators” The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 64-73
What is Conservation?
Conservation is the protection of the natural environment and wildlife. Conservation is not only the preservation of current states of nature, it can also be the restoration to previous states which have been damaged.
A good example: There is an endangered animal with dwindling numbers. However, 10 years ago, these animals were much more numerous. Conservation efforts could be trying to maintain the current numbers of the species, preventing the species numbers from falling further. Or the conservation efforts could be to return that species to a greater abundance from a past time.
Why is Conservation Important?
This is very difficult to answer in a brief manner, but the quick answer is that there are many reasons why conservation is important.
Here are a few for now:
It can be important to conserve plants, as we need them to produce oxygen.
It can be important to conserve riparian zone (river-edge) plants, as the roots of these plants may stop the erosion of river banks, and may increase the water quality.
It can be important to preserve plants because they may provide food for some animals.
It is important to conserve the quality of our air, so that the climate doesn’t change too quickly for organisms to adapt.
It is important to conserve the quality of our water so that it is acceptable for many organisms to drink and for many organisms to live in.
It can be important to conserve animals because some animals allow for the dispersal of seeds. Without them plants may become less abundant.
It can be important to conserve animals, as they may be needed to control other animals that would become too numerous and cause damage if their predator is removed.
It can be important to conserve animals for their droppings which add nutrients to the soil.
It can also be important to conserve nature so that we may enjoy its natural beauty.
These are just a few reasons and there are many more which I’m sure will arise in future posts!