Plant Cuttings

Asking the right question

Why are there so many kinds of plants?

Image: Joaquim Alves Gaspar and Tony Wills/Wikimedia Commons.
Image: Joaquim Alves Gaspar and Tony Wills/Wikimedia Commons.

Often answers to the simplest questions are the most insightful. Take for instance the perfectly reasonable query, ‘why are there so many kinds of plants?’. This fascinating question is pondered by Professor Fred Essig (University of South Florida, USA) in his guest blog entry at Biology Online, a site that claims to provide answers to all your biology questions. I won’t give away the answer, but taking a niche-based approach Essig provides a thoughtful response that can be used by all should the same question come up in your own teaching. Cheers, Fred!

[However, one still can’t help wondering if 10,000 species of grass is too many… especially as they all look the same (or so my students tell me…) – Ed.]

About the author

Nigel Chaffey

Nigel is a botanist and full-time academic at Bath Spa University (Bath, near Bristol, UK). As News Editor for the Annals of Botany he contributes the monthly Plant Cuttings column to that august international botanical organ. His main goal is to inform (hopefully, in an educational, and entertaining way...) about plants and plant-people interactions.


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