Adaptations to the environment in plants

Plant adaptations can be structural, behavioural or physiological. Regardless of the type, all adaptations make organisms better suited to their ecosystem and provide them with a better chance of survival and reproduction, which are their ultimate aims. The adaptations that arise from competition are essential for the process of evolution. Survival of the fittest means survival of those best adapted.

Structural adaptations in plants

Structural adaptations of plants are the physical features, which allow them to compete. An example of this is the formation of spines, which are found on many species, such as cacti and roses, and can stop a plant being eaten by grazing animals. Other examples of structural adaptions include plants with wide-ranging, shallow roots to absorb lots of water after rain, large leaves to maximise photosynthesis and flowers, which attract insects to pollinate them.

Behavioural adaptations in plants

Behavioural adaptations of plants are behaviours which give them an advantage. All plant shoots grow quickly towards the light to maximise photosynthesis. Growth towards the light and other tropisms ensure that plants can respond to changes in their environment. Plant roots which grow downwards may be because of gravity or growing directly towards water to maximise photosynthesis. Other plants like the Venus flytrap have evolved structural and behavioural adaptations to catch insects. The flytrap itself is a structural adaptation and the closing of the trap to catch an insect is a behavioural adaptation.

Physiological adaptations in plants

Physiological adaptations of plants are processes which allow them to compete. An example of this is the formation of poisons for defence. The nettle plant stings us when we brush the tiny needles on its leaves, which contain poison. Other plants, like deadly nightshade, are so poisonous they can kill if consumed by humans.