Physical adaptations are one way plants have become well-adapted to specific environmental conditions. For example, cacti have spines in place of leaves to prevent water loss in the arid conditions of the desert, and deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall to survive cold weather conditions over the winter. Chemical adaptations are another means for plant protection. Many plants produce toxic or noxious compounds to protect themselves from insects or animals that would eat them, to reduce competition from other plants, or even to change the response of pollinators. Humans analyze and harvest these compounds for our own benefit.
Read this article on the search for useful plant compounds: Mother Nature’s Medicine Cabinet
Read this article on the less-than-beneficial uses of plant products: Addictive Drugs That Are Actually Pesticides
Choose ONE of the following compounds:
Answer these four questions:
Describe the compound and in what plant(s) it is found.
Explain how this compound provides protection for the plant.
Does the compound provide any other benefits for the plant, such as enhanced pollination?
What effect does the compound have on humans?