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There are a lot of people across the globe, who share the love of the environment. Many people like planting trees, gardening, growing flowers, and decorating their homes with small potted succulents. You could be one of them! To keep this love for the environment, intact, let us look into what plants have a longer life span and are most suitable for indoor decor. Read on to know- what plants live the longest!
What Plants Live the Longest?
Here is a list of 6 plants that live the longest:
1. The Botanical Ballet
Who doesn’t like plants? Everyone likes a little greenery now and then. The love for the environment comes in different forms. Some people are very enthusiastic gardeners and like to make a garden of their own, irrespective of the area, some like decorating their homes with indoor plants, and some just enjoy gazing at the green environment around them.
Definition-wise, what are plants though? Every one of you at some point in your life has gotten to know the difference between shrubs, herbs, and trees, all of which are classified as plants. Biologically, plants are eukaryotes belonging to the kingdom Plantae and are predominantly photosynthetic, meaning, they prepare their food with the help of sunlight, chloroplasts, carbon dioxide, and water.
As of today, there are about 3,82,000 species of plants accepted across the world, the majority of which can produce seeds. It has been found that ancestors of land plants began life in water. Almost 1200 million years ago, algal scum formed on the land, but the first land plants didn’t appear until Ordovician, which was almost 450 million years ago.
2. Herbal Hocus Pocus
As mentioned earlier, plants are classified into three major categories – herbs, shrubs, and trees. In general, herbs are considered to be a widely distributed group of plants with savory attributes, except plants that have vegetables and are consumed for macronutrients. They are primarily used for flavoring, garnishing, medicinal utility, and fragrances.
The difference between herbs and spices exists in their culinary use. Herbs typically refer to the greeny and leafy parts of the plant, whereas, spices are predominantly dried parts of the plant, such as seeds, flowers, roots, and bark. Herbs can be utilized for other purposes such as medicinal, aromatic, or spiritual in some cases.
In botanical terms, herbs refer to herbaceous plants, considered small seed-bearing plants without the presence of any woody stem, in which all parts above the ground die back to the ground at the end of each growing season. Typically defined as perennials, herbs can also be annuals or biennials.
However, herbs can be a more excellent range of plants, as per their culinary, medicinal, or spiritual use. Some of the most used herbs, like rosemary, sage, and lavender would not be included in the botanical definition of a herb, as these grow throughout the year and also bear woody stems like that of shrubs and trees.
3. Shrubbery Shenanigans
Often termed a bush, a shrub is a small-to-medium-sized perennial plant with woody stems. Unlike herbs, they bear persistent woody stems and can either be deciduous or evergreen. Shrubs are distinguished from trees by their lesser height which is mostly less than 6-10 meters, and the presence of multiple branches or stems. Subshrubs is a term used for shrubs that are smaller than 2 meters.
The land that predominantly bears shrubs is often called a shrubland. The names are different across the world. It can be termed a fynbos, maquis, shrub-steppe, shrub-swap, and moorland. In parks and gardens, an area solely dedicated to shrubs is also called a shrubbery, scrub border, or shrub garden.
However, in terms of agricultural and commercial use, unlike trees and herbs, shrubs have relatively smaller utilization. Apart from the berry-bearing shrubs, out of which few can be consumed directly, they are too small to produce much timber, unlike trees for that matter.
Some of the shrubs that can be used for timber are among several fragrant species like lavender and rose, and a large extent of plants that are used medicinally. Tea and coffee belong to the boundary between a tree and a shrub. They are harvested from a shrub but can grow to become small-sized trees if left to extend.
4. Treehouse Chronicles
A tree is defined as a perennial plant with an outstretched stem or trunk usually supporting branches and leaves. Sometimes, a tree can also be defined as a woody plant with secondary development, a plant that can be used for timber or plants above a specified height. In a broader perspective, the palms, tree ferns, bananas, and bamboo, are also trees.
Typically a tree bears many secondary branches bounded clear of the ground by the trunk. The tree trunk contains woody tissue for supplying strength and also has vascular tissues to transport minerals and water from one part to another part of the tree.
Most trees are surrounded by a protective barrier, which is the bark. The roots and branches spread out widely under the ground. They help to keep the tree firm in its place and extract moisture and nutrients from the soil.
The branches further divide into smaller branches which bear the leaves that capture the sunlight to carry out the photosynthesis process to prepare their food. Trees usually reproduce via seeds and some also bear fruits and flowers. Trees play a major role in declining erosion and moderating the climate. They are also habitats for many plants and animals.
5. Houseplant Mysteries
What are houseplants? Many of you like decorating the indoors of your home with small, miniature potted plants. Those plants are termed houseplants or indoor plants. These plants are typically ornamental plants that are grown indoors. Plants that are commonly used as houseplants are cacti, succulents, or epiphytes.
How did this culture begin though? It is believed that Ancient Egyptians and Sumerians used to grow ornamental plants and fruits in small decorative containers. People in Ancient Greece and Rome cultivated plants in earthenware vessels. Almost 2,500 years ago, garden exhibitions in ancient China displayed potted plants.
The care requirements of indoor plants are different from those of plants that are grown outdoors. The important factors that one needs to keep in mind while growing a houseplant include moisture, ventilation, humidity, light, soil composition, fertilizers, and potting. Each species requires different care procedures to grow properly. Here are a few common houseplants that live a long life.
5.1. The Secret Language of Succulents
Succulent plants, better known as succulents are plants having parts that are thickened, fleshy, and bloated, to be able to replenish water in arid climates or soil conditions. They can store water in various structures like stems or leaves, some organs even having water content up to 90-95%.
As per some definitions, roots of geophytes that survive unfavorable conditions by dying back to underground storage organs are also regarded as succulents. These plants are generally found in regions with high temperatures and low rainfall such as deserts, however, they can also grow in alpine systems on rocky surfaces.
The most important characteristic of a succulent is its ability to withstand conditions with limited water sources, such as mist and dew, where the quantity of water is scarce and surviving is difficult. Succulent plants are resistant to drought as their stem, leaves, and roots grow to become more than usually fleshy due to water-storing tissues.
Succulents are found within each continent, excluding Antarctica. As per the estimation of the World Wildlife Fund, South America is home to one-third of the total species of succulents available.
Although they are deemed to be found in dry regions, the driest regions aren’t capable of housing succulents properly. They aren’t able to grow in harsh conditions, however, they can develop in areas where other plants find it difficult.
Succulents: Resilient Beauties Thriving in Minimal Water
Jeremy Yamaguchi, the CEO of Lawn Love, discusses succulents’ roles in ecosystems and their adaptive strategies:
“Succulents are some of the most durable plants out there. They are also some of the most unique plants to look at, which is why I love them so much. Most have native climates that are desert-like, which is why they typically need very little water.
In fact, they usually struggle the most simply when they are watered [too much], rather than most other harsh environmental conditions they may encounter.”
5.2. The White Wizard of Houseplants
The White Wizard or the Peace Lily is scientifically termed Spathiphyllum and is known to be a popular houseplant across the globe. It is loved for its elegance and air-purifying attributes. The flower is mostly found in regions of Central America and Southeast Asia and holds an essence in most homes and offices.
The leaves of this plant are glossy dark green and the flowers are striking white in shade. The flower stands as a symbol of harmony, tranquility, and purity. The plant makes an ideal choice for tabletops or floor displays as it grows up to 16 to 24 inches in height.
One of the most notable features of this plant is its ability to purify the air around it. It improves the air quality indoors by eliminating common toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, and ammonia, making it a preferable pick to purify and freshen the air around you.
Apart from this characteristic, they are also low-maintenance as they do not require direct sunlight, and often drool indicating that it’s time to water them. To ensure their healthy growth it is always best to mist them occasionally and repot them every couple of years. Even if resilient, they are toxic to animals and it is best to avoid them keeping close to your pet’s reach.
Houseplants: Versatile Accents for Any Home Aesthetic
Ryan Farley, the CEO of LawnStarter, offers insights on selecting plants for aesthetic and health benefits:
“In my experience, houseplants add a natural flair and a kind of freshness to your home aesthetic.
The best part is they can go alongside almost any decor scheme—even if your home is [mostly] sleek modern without much in the way of other natural materials, a houseplant or two can add a pop of greenery and color [that] will elevate and complement your existing aesthetic.
They also, [of course], go great with more cozy and rustic styles that emphasize tons of natural, raw materials.”
5.3. Cactus Chemistry
Cactus is a member of the plant family Cactaceae and is a diverse group of plants popular for their notable adaptations to arid climates. They have unique features that allow them to inhabit even the most harsh conditions, mainly in the regions of South and North America. They are easily recognizable due to the water-storing capacity of their stems, which can be found in different shapes and sizes.
These stems enable them to store water during times of rain and conserve it for upcoming droughts. The spines of cacti are one of its remarkable features and can serve multiple purposes. They protect the plant from herbivores, provide shade by reducing airflow, and help lower water loss by limiting moisture evaporation.
The ability to withstand harsh conditions makes them resilient. They are often used ornamentally as houseplants, requiring less care due to their drought-resistant nature. While they are pricky, they also bear vibrant small flowers that attract pollinators. Some cacti also produce small edible fruits which have culinary and medicinal utilization.
5.4. The Green Elixir
One of the most common plants popular for its notable healing properties is Aloe Vera. It also comes under succulents and is predominantly found in the arid areas of North America. This plant has been cultivated for multiple purposes ranging from medicinal to culinary for centuries.
The thick and fleshy leaves of aloe vera contain a clear gel that is rich in biochemicals like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and enzymes. The gel is known for its soothing attributes and is typically used to treat sunburns, acne, and minor burns. It has natural anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties and is effective for treating wounds and relieve itching.
Aloe Vera finds use to a greater extent in the cosmetic industry for the manufacturing of creams, serums, lotions, and shampoos due to its moisturizing and hydrating qualities.
The plant also finds utilization in the field of medicine, as the gel is believed to have digestive benefits and helps reduce conditions like acid reflux and improper bowel movements.
5.5. Purple Passion
Lavender is a popular herb among people known for its versatility. It bears aromatic purple blossoms and finds use in culinary, decoration, and medicinal. This plant is commonly found in the Mediterranean region and has been a popular pick among people for centuries now.
Lavender stands out in a garden with its tiny spikes of fragrant purple, sweet-smelling flowers. It has a pleasant scent and has therapeutic properties as well. Essential oil extracted from lavender is popular among people for its calming and stress-relieving properties. It is also used for aromatherapy, massages, and bath products to promote relaxation and improve anxiety.
Lavender also finds utilization in culinary as its buds and leaves can be used to add a subtle flavor to your relishes and desserts. Lavender-flavored teas and honey infused with lavender are some of the liked choices among food enthusiasts. It also has medicinal uses, such as for the treatment of insomnia, headaches, and digestive issues.
It is also a valuable addition to skincare products due to its acne-managing properties. Lavenders also attract pollinators like bees, improving biodiversity. As it can adapt to dry conditions, the plant requires less maintenance overall. Because of all its qualities, lavender is a cherished herb across the world.
6. Eternal Blossoms
So far you have come to know about all three classifications of plants, herbs, shrubs, and trees. You also get to know about what are houseplants and which are some common houseplants. Houseplants usually tend to live longer because they are low-maintenance and typically adapt to difficult conditions. But what about some of the longest-living trees? Here are a few:
6.1. Legends of the White Mountains
One of the oldest surviving trees on earth, some of which are known to have lived for about 5,000 years is the Bristlecone Pines. They are primarily native to the White Mountains of California and are a representation of longevity on the planet. These trees are deemed to be one of the oldest living organisms.
They are known for their capability to survive in very rough, high-altitude conditions which only a few other plants can tolerate. They stick to rocky, windswept slopes at elevations between 9,800 and 11,000 feet and endure extreme cold, dry conditions, and nutrient-poor soils.
Although they can withstand harsh conditions, these trees are vulnerable to climate change, human activity, and invasive species. Therefore, it is essential to conserve them to ensure the long life of these ancient organisms.
Ancient Trees: Guardians of Biodiversity, Climate, and Culture
I deeply appreciate the broader ecological role of ancient trees like Bristlecone Pines and Redwoods.
Ancient Trees in the Ecosystem
- Biodiversity Hotspots: Ancient trees serve as vital ecosystems within themselves. They support diverse life forms, including rare and endangered species, making them crucial for maintaining biodiversity.
- Carbon Sequestration: These trees play a significant role in carbon storage, pivotal in mitigating climate change. The longer a tree lives, the more carbon it can sequester, making ancient trees particularly valuable.
- Soil Health and Water Conservation: The extensive root systems of ancient trees help maintain soil health and water conservation.
They prevent soil erosion and contribute to the soil’s water-holding capacity, benefiting the surrounding flora.
- Educational and Research Value: For professionals in horticulture and botany, these trees offer invaluable insights into ecological resilience and adaptation. They are living records of environmental changes over centuries.
- Cultural and Aesthetic Value: Beyond their ecological functions, ancient trees have immense cultural and aesthetic importance.
They inspire appreciation for nature’s majesty and contribute to the mental well-being of individuals who engage with them.
6.2. Redwood Magic
Sequoioideae are commonly known as redwoods and are a subfamily of coniferous trees within the Cupressaceae family. This family includes the largest and tallest trees in the world. The words used to describe a redwood tree include immense, ancient, mysterious, and powerful.
California‘s coast redwood grows up to a height of about 367 feet and has a width of around 22 feet. The trees can live up to 2,000 years and regularly the trees live up to at least 600 years.
The trees have an unusual capability of regenerating, hence helping them survive in rough conditions. They are also resistant to natural enemies such as insects and fire. The high tannin content insect damages are almost insignificant. They also do not depend on reproduction for the growth of new generations as sprouts may arise directly from a stump or root system as a clone.
6.3. Olive Odyssey
The olive tree is a species of small tree or shrub belonging to the family Oleaceae and is typically native to the Mediterranean Basin. In its shrub form, it is termed Olea europaea, dwarf olive, or little olive. The species is cultivated in all the Mediterranean countries and also in New Zealand, Australia, South and North America, and South Africa.
The fruit from the olive tree is called olive and holds agricultural importance Mediterranean as the main ingredient of olive oil, which is a core ingredient in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. Olives are primarily used for oil, eating, or both.
The olive trees are usually short and squat, not exceeding 8-15 meters in height. The tree trunk is generally twisted and gnarled and the leaves are silvery green and 4-10 cm long. They also bear small, white feathery flowers. The oldest olive tree to still exist is located in Portugal and is almost 3,350 years old.
Guest Author: Saket Kumar