How do plants defend themselves from enemies?
Plants are always under attack and threat. Plants are rooted deep in the soil, hence they cant move. That’s why they have developed some defense mechanisms in the body to protect themselves from prey. Plant defenses are adaptations that reduce the damage and death caused by herbivores and plant pathogens. Herbivores eat up non-toxic plants and flowers to fulfill their hunger and plant pathogens attack plants to capture their body and find a way to survive.
Here are some ways in which plants defend themselves:
1)The first line of defense is the hard and thick barrier composed of bark and waxy cuticle in woody trees. It is impenetrable by animals.
2) Thorns, hard shells, and spines are developed in plants so that the animals get injured and may also cause rashes and allergies. So in a way, they will never attempt to eat the plant’s leaves even in the future.
3)Some acacia trees have a mutualistic relationship( similar to a deal between two people) with ants. So the ants scare off the animals and in return, the plant offers shelter to ants.
4)The famous “touch me not plant” or mimosa pudica plant is very special as it closes its leaves once anything touches it. As a result, small insects find it difficult to eat the leaves.
5) Some plants mimic the surroundings around them, for eg; the passionflower vine has developed small yellow dots on its leaves which mimics the eggs of the butterfly, hence they don’t lay their eggs on the leaves which otherwise would have been destroyed.
6) plants also produce chemicals called secondary metabolites, which are toxic to animals when they consume them. For example, they produce cardiac glycosides which make the animals dizzy and nauseated on consumption.
7)Plants also produce alkaloids that emit strong odors like that of oils of mint and repellents which do not attract animals.
8)Stinging nettles release toxins and histamine which cause pain and swelling when touched.
9)Spinach, kiwi fruit, pineapple, fuchsia, and rhubarb all produce microscopic needle-like crystals called raphides. They can cause tiny wounds on the inside of the animal’s mouth.
To conclude, plants also defend themselves from attackers to protect themselves from damage and death.