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Episode 9 of 10

The nature series turns to plants and looks at the ingenious solutions that they employ to counter life's challenges, such as spring-loaded traps, suckers and claws.

Plants' solutions to life's challenges are as ingenious and manipulative as any animal's.

Innovative time-lapse photography opens up a parallel world where plants act like fly-paper, or spring-loaded traps, to catch insects. Vines develop suckers and claws to haul themselves into the rainforest canopy. Every peculiar shape proves to have a clever purpose. The dragon's blood tree is like an upturned umbrella to capture mist and shade its roots. The seed of a Bornean tree has wings so aerodynamic they inspired the design of early gliders. The barrel-shaped desert rose is full of water. The heliconia plant even enslaves a humming bird and turns it into an addict for its nectar.

8 months left to watch

59 minutes

Last on

Sun 30 Oct 2011 01:50



Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Opening Titles

    Duration: 00:23

  • Introduction to Trees

    A quick look at the various traits of trees, including fast growth and the ability to survive for thousands of years.

    Duration: 03:54

  • Obtaining Nutrients

    Rather than wait for the sunlight to come to them, some plants climb their way towards it; whilst the air-plant has a resourceful way of soaking up water and gathering nutrients.

    Duration: 05:08

  • Trapped

    The sundew attracts its prey with its sweet smell, whilst the Venus fly trap has an occasional truce with its target in order to be pollinated.

    Duration: 06:32

  • Offspring

    Flowers enable plants to reproduce; this comes easily for the Sunflower, which gets some help from pollinating bees, but the Richea Honey Bush is a lot more delicate.

    Duration: 03:13

  • Plants vs. Pollinators

    The Sandhill milkweed puts up with a caterpillar onslaught in order to achieve pollination, and the Heliconia rations its nectar to the hummingbird so it returns for more.

    Duration: 04:45

  • Spreading the Seed

    Before death, the Brunsvigia uses the wind to spread its seeds, the Alsomitra seeds glide far away from the pod, and the seeds from a Saguaro cactus are taken by a variety of creatures.

    Duration: 09:22

  • Harsh Conditions

    The Dragons Blood Tree manages to live during a brutal dry season in Socotra and the Red Mangrove survives in deadly salt water.

    Duration: 05:03

  • Harsh Conditions: Part 2

    With autumn and winter on the horizon, the broad-leafed tree uses its resources to make sure it can hold on for five months, whilst the pine survives harsher temperatures in western America.

    Duration: 04:06

  • Spring

    After the conditions of the previous months, life starts to grow again. This includes two particular types of plants which help the human world function: grass and wheat.

    Duration: 05:19

  • Life on Location – Time Warp

    An in-depth look at how the film makers employed various techniques in order to capture plants at their best.

    Duration: 10:56


Role Contributor
Narrator David Attenborough
Executive Producer Michael Gunton
Producer Neil Lucas