D.I.WHY: Do plants have mouths?
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Have you ever looked around at the plants surrounding you? Maybe you've got pot plants on your balcony, or big trees down at your local green space,or maybe you've got a veggie patch, or you might, like me, have a few flowers blooming around you. But have you ever taken the time to really look at them, to look at the structures and the features of our plants?
I thought today we might do just that. Take for instance this one. This is a native grevilla. We have a nice stem. We have some leaves and, well, not quite some petals, but your flower might have some petals.
Now if we go a bit deeper, let's have a look at the structures a bit further in.
This long stem-like petal is the stamen, or the male organ. At the tip it contains the pollen, presenting it to a pollinator. Further inside at the base of the flower is the ovary which protects the egg.
Pollen, which is this yellow powder you see, is a source of protein for insects. Insects like these ants help move the pollen from the stamen to the ovary and combined with the egg creates a new seed.
Now we've got to remember to stay hydrated on these warm spring days especially when we're playing outside. Have you ever thought how plants get their water? I mean, we drink from a bottle or a tap or maybe straight from the sky but we have a mouth. Plants don't have mouths. They get their water when we use a watering can or when it rains. Ah! They don't have a mouth but they have roots. I wonder how they get the water to where they need it though? Let's go to the kitchen and find out!
So what we'll need here is a bunch of celery with the leaves attached, two glasses, or if you've only got one one's fine as well, food coloring, and some water.
I'm going to get two stalks, nice big green leaves, and we're just going to chop off the ends. Then we're going to get our glasses and fill them about 200 ml of water each.
Then we're going to just do a couple of drops of food coloring. I'm going to use red and I'm also going to use blue. If you've got blue I'd recommend it as it works quite well for this experiment. So just a few drops of red - that's a bit too much - and a few drops of blue, and then you're simply going to take your celery stalk and mix it round. Mix this one round. You're going to have to wait, maybe three hours you'll start to see a bit of difference but best results are after one day or even two whole days. So maybe in that time you can write a little diary about what changes you notice or what you think might happen.
These are my celeries two days later. Can you see a difference in the color of the leaves? What about inside the stem? Let's cut it open and see. Can you see those blue dots? They're xylem vessels and they're used for carrying water. Plants contain many xylem vessels, stretching from the roots to the tips of the leaves just like a series of drinking straws. First the plant loses water through their leaves, drying out the inside ever so slightly. This draws more water up from the roots to get to the leaves. This process is known as transpiration.
So while plants don't have mouths they still drink water just like we do. They use their roots, xylem, and leaves instead.
Thanks for watching and the adventure doesn't have to stop here. You can keep learning with many games activities and quizzes on our Australian Museum website. Have fun!
Duration: 5 mins
Ages: 5-12 years
Do plants have mouths? Find out what plants are made of and see how they drink with a fun at home experiment using celery.
Shopping list for this activity:
- Parent supervision/permission
- Food colouring (choice of colours – blue works best)
- Celery (2 stems or as many colour dyes you have)
- Glass/jar (2 or as many colour dyes you have)
- Knife and chopping board