Some plants produce things we like to eat such as apples, oranges, grapes, carrots, and peas. Some plants produce beautiful things for us to enjoy, like roses. Some produce seeds, leaves and flowers that we add to the food we cook to make it taste delicious–like rosemary, lavender and pepper. Plants are used to produce many kinds of products including clothing, medicine, shampoo, soap, and stuffing for pillows and diapers.
So how did all these plants get here? Some were native to the United States, and were growing here before white Europeans came. Some were brought by people like the Pilgrims, who left England almost four hundred years ago and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to live in a new land. To help remind them of the homeland they left forever, they brought along some of their favorite plants.
The Pilgrims probably didn’t realize they were bringing other plants growing on the hull, or bottom, of their sailing ship. This is how many non-native, or exotic species, get transported around the world.
Just like land plants, marine plants need sunlight and water to grow. However they take their oxygen from the water rather then the air. If you go down to any beach or wharf and look at the pilings you will see green, red or brown plants growing there. Seaweeds (Marine Algae) are ancient and simple plants. Like humans, they like clean water for clean oxygen as much as humans need clean air to be healthy. Seaweeds depend on clean water for their health.
Seaweeds are food for many other organisms living in the water. And like land plants, they are an important food source for many people. Have you ever eaten sushi wrapped in Nori (Japanese word for a type of seaweed)? Seaweed is also an ingredient in ice cream and pudding. The carrageenan in ice cream is made from a type of red algae (seaweed). Seaweeds are also added to soap, shampoo and toothpaste. They also make great fertilizers for gardens.
Activity page contributor Rejane Butler.