Plants, also called green plants (Viridiplantae in Latin), are living organisms of the kingdom Plantae including such multicellular groups as flowering plants, conifers, ferns and mosses, as well as, depending on definition, the green algae, but not red or brown seaweeds like kelp, nor fungi or bacteria
Precise numbers are difficult to determine, but as of 2010[update]Template:Dated maintenance category, there are thought to be 300–315 thousand species of plants, of which the great majority, some 260–290 thousand, are seed plants. Green plants provide most of the world's free oxygen and are the basis of most of the earth's ecologies, especially on land. Plants described as grains, fruits and vegetables form mankind's basic foodstuffs, and have been domesticated for millennia. Plants enrich our lives as flowers and ornaments. Until recently and in great variety they have served as the source of most of our medicines and drugs. Their scientific study is known as botany
Psychologists are interested in plant for a number of reasons.
- Plants may cause harm to animals, including people.
- Plants that produce windblown pollen invoke allergic reactions in people who suffer from hay fever. Some plants cause allergic reactions when ingested, while other plants cause food intolerances that negatively affect health.
- A wide variety of plants are poisonous. *Toxalbumins are plant poisons fatal to most mammals and act as a serious deterrent to consumption.
- Certain plants contain psychotropic chemicals, which are extracted and ingested or smoked, including tobacco, cannabis (marijuana), cocaine and opium. Smoking causes damage to health or even death, while some drugs may also be harmful or fatal to people.
- Both illegal and legal drugs derived from plants may have negative effects on the economy, affecting worker productivity and law enforcement costs.
The use of chemicals to induce altered states of mind dates to antiquity and includes the use of plants such as thornapple (Datura stramonium) that contain combinations of anticholinergic alkaloids. The use of nonlethal chemicals to render an enemy force incapable of fighting dates back to at least 600 B.C. when Solon's soldiers threw hellebore roots into streams supplying water to enemy troops, who then developed diarrhea. In 184 B.C., Hannibal's army used belladonna plants to induce disorientation, and the Bishop of Münster in A.D. 1672 attempted to use belladonna-containing grenades in an assault on the city of Groningen. In 1881, members of a railway surveying expedition crossing Tuareg territory in North Africa ate dried dates that tribesmen had apparently deliberately contaminated with Hyoscyamus falezlez. In 1908, 200 French soldiers in Hanoi became delirious and experienced hallucinations after being poisoned with a related plant. More recently, accusations of Soviet use of incapacitating agents internally and in Afghanistan were never substantiated.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Biodiversity and drugs
- Horticulture therapy
- List of plants of interest to psychologists
- Medicinal herbs and plants
References[edit | edit source]
- Deaths related to cocaine.
- Illegal drugs drain $160 billion a year from American economy.
- The social cost of illegal drug consumption in Spain.
- CBWInfo.com (2001). A Brief History of Chemical and Biological Weapons: Ancient Times to the 19th Century. Retrieved 27 October 2008.
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