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Introduction

Some people, birders especially, have a life list of the birds that they've seen. A botanist can have this kind of list too. We can deal with the physiology that lies at the heart of those differences. Certainly, you understand that plants are photosynthetic organisms, photosynthetic eucaryotes to be precise. These therefore are organisms that capture solar radiation, electromagnetic energy, and can convert it into chemical energy. Basically, the world's entire food pyramid is predicated on this physiological capacity. This list also includes reproductive differences which resonate also with the ways in which plants differ in terms of their evolutionary responses to biological and physical change in their environment.

The point that should be made to our students, both at the high school and university levels, is that, by virtue of their differences in biology from animals, plants are extraordinarily useful tools with which to teach basic principles. For example, in a biology class, if you use plants to illustrate principles in biology, you don't have the difficulties raised by animal right's activists. It's curious that people are not unhappy when you dissect a cabbage, but they are extraordinarily unhappy when you dissect a frog. Yet, there are many aspects of biology that can be taught by dissecting a cabbage whereas a frog can be rather messy as well as irrelevant to the point.

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