All living things, including plants and animals, perform different life processes in order to ensure the survival of the species. Plants need nourishment, a way to excrete waste material, ways to reproduce and create new plants, means of individual growth, and ways to move and breathe, all of which are accomplished through seven life processes.
Plants move slowly, usually by growing in one direction, such as toward a source of light or warmth. Plant movement occurs both above ground, in the form of leaves and shoots, and below ground, where roots spread out and move deeper into the earth in order to provide stronger support and a greater supply of nutrients.
Just as humans and animals breathe, plants use respiration as a means of releasing energy, using up nutrients and oxygen, and producing water and carbon dioxide. Respiration is essentially the opposite of photosynthesis, the process by which plants create food and matter.
Plants are sensitive to changes in their environment, and this sensitivity allows them to respond accordingly and increase their chances of surviving and flourishing in that environment. A plant can gradually grow towards a light source, for example, where it benefits from the increased light.
Plants grow by producing new cells and tissues. Growth occurs at the plant's stem, leaves, flowers and roots. A process called mitosis produces new cells for the plant to use as growth tissue.
Plants' reproductive systems are most often in the form of flowers, although other types of reproduction are used by some plants; spores are a reproductive method of some non-flowering plants. These methods contain the biological materials needed for propagation and growth of a new plant.
Plants get rid of their waste by various means. Waste can be stored in the vacuoles of plant cells or in organs that will at some point fall off the plant--autumn leaves, for example. Alternatively, plants can secrete waste into the soil.
Plants need the chemical elements hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, found in air and water, in order to produce starches and sugars via the process of photosynthesis. These starches and sugars feed the plant and allow it to grow in size.
- Plant image by Platinum Pictures from Fotolia.com