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Desert Diary
Plants/Out of Sight


Out of sight, out of mind. The natural world is no exception to this. When we think of plants, it's usually about what we see—leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits. But much of a plant is hidden underground, and thus out of sight, out of mind.

The root system of a plant is not just something to hold it in place, although that indeed is one of its functions. The roots, like the above ground parts, are a hotbed of activity. After all, plants, like animals, require water and minerals, and procuring such is one of the roles of the root system. In one sense, water is even more important to plants than to us, for it's a vital substance in the process of photosynthesis—the process that not only provides food for the plant, but ultimately for all animals, too.

There's an additional thing reliant on that water that we require: oxygen. In the process of photosynthesis, water molecules are taken apart, releasing their oxygen into the air. Another thing that's out of sight, out of mind.
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Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.