Plant Adaptations: Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:02 What Is a Plant Adaptation?
  • 0:43 Examples of Plant Adaptations
  • 2:25 Plants that Eat Animals
  • 3:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sarah Caughron

Sarah has a master's degree in Applied Anthropology/Archaeology and has worked in formal and informal education since 2006.

Some plants have thorns to protect themselves and some plants eat insects for nourishment! This lesson will teach you about the unique adaptations plants have that allow them to survive being eaten or stay alive in harsh habitats.

What Is a Plant Adaptation?

You're probably familiar with the plants in your backyard and neighborhood. You walk by them every day, but did you know that those plants are specially designed to live there? Think about it: A tree that lives in the rainforest probably wouldn't last in the dry desert, and a desert cactus can't survive in water like a lily pad.

The reason plants are able to survive in their environments is because of their adaptations. A plant adaptation is a unique feature a plant has that allows it to live and grow in its habitat, or place that it lives.

Examples of Plant Adaptations

Often, plants are adapted to one particular environment, and their adaptations make it hard for them to live in any other location. You might find a cactus in the desert, but you won't find a cactus on the tundra, even though both locations receive little rainfall each year.

To understand plant adaptations, think about the plant's habitat. A cactus, for example, has thorns and long roots. The long roots allow this plant to reach deep into the ground to access water in an environment that receives less than 10 inches of rainfall each year. And the sharp thorns on a cactus keep animals from eating it.

Plants that live in the rainforest, on the other hand, have adapted leaves with a thick, waxy coating. It rains a lot in the rainforest, so the waxy coating allows rain to roll off the leaves. Plants that live in water, like lily pads and duckweed, must be able to move with the flow of the water and float, which are adaptations to this habitat.

In environments that don't receive a lot of sunlight, plants will be darker in color. This allows the plant to absorb more sunlight, which is a necessary ingredient of photosynthesis, the process plants use to turn sunlight into energy.

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