Plant Life Cycles: the Absolute Basics

This module will cover the typical plant life cycle.

I don’t think we need to go into too much detail here, but I do want to expose you to the basics in case you need a refresher from high school biology!

A flowering plant’s life cycle, in its simplest form, looks like this:

plant-life-cycle-basic.jpg

Of course, we could go much deeper into genetics and the processes of mitosis and meiosis if you’re interested — I’m happy to create a module on it — but I think it’s probably beyond the scope of this program and not really necessary for our purposes.

Really, the main thing I want to convey here is the importance of observing plants across their life cycle. I found some neat illustrations online that demonstrate how a plant’s morphology changes as it develops

radish-life-cycle-consecutive-stages-growth-seed-to-flowering-fruit-bearing-plant-radish-life-cycle-consecutive-stages-124949396.jpg

If you’ve only ever seen a radish or pea plant when fully mature, chances are you wouldn’t recognize them when they’re in their early cotyledon stage.

Same goes for any edible wild plants you may want to gather, right? You’ll be much better prepared for summer and fall foraging if you know what to keep an eye out for during the springtime.

On the flip side, it pays to know what your favorite wild foods look like at the end of their seasonal cycles, so that if you stumble upon them in the dead of winter you’ll be able to return when they’re in season the following year. And if you know what the plant’s seeds look like, you may be able to spot those on the ground in winter when the rest of the plant itself has died back to the soil.

Here’s a slightly more “advanced” diagram than the one above, outlining the reproductive cycle in greater detail:

plant_flowering_life_cycle_lg.jpg

…Like said, if none of that makes any sense to you, but you really wish it did, just ask and we can go deeper. Otherwise, don’t sweat it! This is not anything you need to understand to gather wild foods, but I do think it’s in your best interest to have a passing familiarity.