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Plant Connections Leader's Guide—Lesson 2: Why Are Plants Important?1

Janice Easton and Deborah J. Glauer 2

Plants provide us with food, fiber, shelter, medicine, and fuel. The basic food for all organisms is produced by green plants. In the process of food production, oxygen is released. This oxygen, which we obtain from the air we breathe, is essential to life. The only source of food and oxygen are plants; no animal alone can supply these. Shelter, in the form of wood for houses; and clothing, in the form of cotton fibers, are obvious uses of plant materials. But we must not forget fuel, furniture, paper products, certain medicines like aspirin, and many other products like perfume and chewing gum. To these tangible aspects of the plant world we must also add the importance of beauty and relaxation derived from plants. Since animals are surrounded by and dependent upon plants, the factors that influence plant growth, structure, and distribution, affect the animal world as well.

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1. This document is 4H359, one of a series of the 4-H Youth Development Program, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date May 1997. Revised January 2015. Reviewed January 2019. Visit the EDIS website at for the currently supported version of this publication. For more publications in the 4-H Plant Connections curriculum, go to
2. Originally written by Janice Easton, UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County; and Deborah J. Glauer, UF/IFAS Extension Youth Development Specialist and Plant Science Design Team Leader; additional assistance provided by project assistants Christy Poole and Lynne Schreiber; reviewed and revised by Dr. Sydney Park Brown, associate professor, Environmental Horticulture; Norma Samuel, UF/IFAS Extension urban horticulture agent II, UF/IFAS Extension Marion County; Dr. Paula Davis, UF/IFAS Extension 4-H youth development agent III, UF/IFAS Extension Bay County; and Dr. Joy C. Jordan, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth, and Community Sciences; UF/iFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #4H359

Date: 2/24/2019


    • Critical Issue: Youth


    • Heather Kent
    • Sarah Hensley