Magill's Encyclopedia of Science: Plant Life by Bryan D. Ness

By Bryan D. Ness

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In modern urban societies, it is also the natural resource that is most often taken for granted. T Agriculture: history and overview • 25 he beginnings of agriculture predate written history. No one knows when the first crop was cultivated, but at some time in the distant past humans discovered that seeds from certain wild grasses could be collected and planted in land that could be controlled and the grasses later gathered for food. Most scholars believe this occurred at about the same time in both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres, some eight thousand to ten thousand years ago.

Indians of Eastern North America were cultivating a number of plants, including bottle gourd, erect knotweed, sumpweed, goosefoot, maygrass, little barley, and sunflower. Carol S. Radford See also: African agriculture; Agriculture: traditional; Asian agriculture; Central American agriculture; Fruit crops; Grains; Plant domestication and breeding; South American agriculture; Vegetable crops. , and Patty Jo Watson. The Origins of Agriculture: An International Perspective. : Smithsonian Institution Press, 1992.

Most plants open their stomata (small openings in the leaves) during the day to get carbon dioxide from the surrounding air. This would lead to high amounts of water loss in a desert environment, so succulents open their stomata at night. Through a biochemical process, they store carbon dioxide until the next day, when it is released inside the plant so photosynthesis can occur without opening the stomata. To prevent water loss, many succulents have no leaves at all. Anabasis articulata, found in the Sahara desert, is a leafless succulent with jointed stems.

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