Peter, what an awesome reply! Is there anytrthing you don't know?
I will honestly never look at plants the same way.
Oh hell yeah. I read a lot, watch plenty of Discovery channel, etc,
but there's plenty I don't know. A lot more I don't know than that I
do know... But I'll never tell which is which...
And I've gotten pretty good at faking it...
As to those chromosome counts? Ran into that a while back just
randomly surfing the net. It's really fun what you can find on the
net if you take ten seconds to search before writing a reply to a
post. Google and Wikipedia are your friends!
But back to plants. (my mom and grandmother are/were both biologists,
and my switch, last fall, to a Vegan diet has me paying much more
attention to plants) It's easy to think of them as simple since they
don't move around much. (There are movements, just usually slow
ones), and they don't have actual nervous systems, muscles, or
brains. But beyond that, they are every bit as amazing life forms as
any animal. More self sufficient, Sometimes hardier (ever tried to
kill or get rid of an established blackberry bush? Or dandelions? )
able to communicate, to a degree, chemically between fellow members
of their species (and sometimes among a variety of species), and
encompassing most of the very longest living species on earth,
though not quite the largest. That category possibly goes to fungi.
Mushrooms are just the blooming fruit of the fungal organisms, and
the mycelial network that makes up the whole organism can, in some
cases, be absolutely enormous. One identified in Oregon spans almost
9 km, an area of over 2000 acres. And aspen groves may look like
individual trees, but as they propagate by sending out runners, a
whole grove may share a single root system, making the whole grove
of trees one organism....
Plants encompass about 9 times the biomass of the planet compared to
animals (though bacteria may total even more than the plants)...
The plants could live just fine without animals. Animals, on the
other hand, wouldn't last so long without plants...