Survival through Adaptation

Getting Food

Absorbing Nutrients

We all need nutrients to grow! Animals, including humans, get the nutrients we need from the food we eat. If we don’t get enough nutrients from our food, we can take vitamins to help us. Plants don’t eat food and they can’t eat vitamins! Plants make their own food from sunlight, but they cannot make their own nutrients.

How do plants get the nutrients they need? In this video, gardener Cara talks about how she helps the plants in the garden get the nutrients they need.

Nutrients in the Soil

Most plants get their nutrients from the soil. In this picture, we can see the artist has drawn a system of roots. She has also written the names of different nutrients in the soil. The root tips absorb these nutrients and the roots move the nutrients up to the rest of the plant’s body. Do you recognize any of the nutrients in the soil?

Expand image Illustration of roots in the soil with elements labeled. Illustration includes a close-up of a root tip.

Lisa Pompelli, Photosynthesis (cropped), 1994, The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens | All rights reserved by the artist

Adapting to Shortage

The soil in the image above has lots of nutrients, but not all environments have nutrient-rich soil. Some environments have soil with very few nutrients! Deserts and rainforests are two environments with very few nutrients. Plants in these environments have adapted strategies to survive. This video from MinuteEarth describes why places with few nutrients can have the most diverse plants!