Agricultural Science

Differences between a Plant and a Crop

Alfred Ajibola - Sat, 16th March, 2019 @ 16:47: PM

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Academic Questions in Agricultural Science

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All plants are crops.

TRUE or FALSE

Plants VS Crops?

Agricultural science as a subject focuses a lot on plants and animals (not crops and animals). A plant and a crop are not exactly the same thing. Let me state that "All crops are plants but not all plants are crops". Often times, I hear students and teachers use both words interchangeable at classroom level, I believe we should be more specific about our use of both words as this article will attempt to make them clearer.

For now, think of a crop as any plant used by humans for the purpose of food, money or something beneficial

 

What are Plants?

All plants belong to one kingdom and that's kingdom plantae. Based on this knowledge, we can comfortably say that;

Crops, weeds, tall trees, shrubs are all plants but not necessarily the same kind of plants. They are generally plants because they all belong to the same kingdom (plantae).

Are all plants crops?

The answer is NO

Plants can be categorizes into different forms based on certain features or characteristics. Consider the instances below:

1. Parasitic Plants: The parasitic plants are not necessarily crops in the sense that some of them aren't used by humans for the purpose of food or money.

Parasitic plants are plants that derive some or all of their nutritional requirements from other plants.

Usually, they have a form of modified roots called haustoria, which they use for penetration into their host plants.

Examples of parasitic plants are mistletoe, bird's-nest orchid, cactus mistletoe and the corpse flower

Corpse Flower - Image Credit: Britannica

Note: The host plant is one that suffers from the actions of a parasitic plant. Apart from depending on other plants for food, parasitic plants also carry out photosynthesis. Please read on autotrophic nutririon and photosynthesis here.

 

2. Carnivorous Plants: These plants are not necessarily crops.

Carnivorous plants are plants that derive some or most of their nutrients by consuming small animals, especially insects. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as insectivorous plants.

Examples of carnivorous plants are the Venus flytrap, pitcher plant and sundew

Venus Flytrap - Image Credit: Careerline Courses

One reason why carnivorous plants feed on insects is because they often find themselves growing on soils with little nitrogen. Insects on their part are very rich in nitrogen.

Note: Like every other plants, carnivorous plants also carry out photosynthesis.

 

3. Trees and Shrubs: Although we have some trees that are crops (tree crops), not all trees and shrubs are not crops.

Mango trees and Orange trees are crops because they are grown for their fruit; but the plum tree is not a crop, neither does it bear any fruit.

 

4: Weeds: Weeds are plants growing where they are neither wanted nor desired.

Often times, we don't consider weeds as crops because they are not needed or desired. As a matter of fact, a farmer will likely cut them down.

 

You can see from the few examples that plants can be very broad. We can go on and on; but the point is;

ALL PLANTS ARE NOT CROPS

ALL CROPS ARE PLANTS

 

What are Crops?

Any plant that is grown for the purpose of food, money or something beneficial is a crop.

We will normally cultivate our crops and harvest them when the time is right. Generally, crops serve a variety of uses for humans.

Below is the classification of crops based on their uses
  1. Oil Crops: They are grown for the purpose of the oil which they produce when processed. Examples of oil crops are oil palm, coconut, groundnut and melon.

  2. Vegetable Crops: They are grown for the purpose of their leaves (or fruits). Examples are pumpkin, water leaf, bitter leaf and okra.

  3. Latex Crops: They are grown for the purpose of their sticky liquid (called latex) which are useful in plastic industries. Rubber crop is an example.

  4. Drug and Medicinal Crops: Moringa and Ginseng are examples of crops grown for their medicinal values.

  5. Beverage Crop: These crops are grown for the purpose of making drinks. Examples are cocoa, coffee and tea crops.

  6. Fibre: They are grown for the purpose of clothing. Cotton, hemp and flax crop are examples of fibre crops

  7. Fruit Crops: They are grown for the purpose of their edible fruits. Examples are orange, mango and cashew crops.

  8. Root and Tuber Crops: These crops are grown because they serve as major sources of carbohydrates. Examples are yam and potatoes.

  9. Legumes: Leguminous crops are very rich in protein. Examples are beans and groundnut.

  10. Spices: These crops are grown because they add flavor to food. Examples are onion, pepper and ginger.

  11. Cereals: They belong to the grass family and are rich sources of carbohydrates. Examples are rice, maize and millet.

 

Sometimes, we see plants growing within our environment without us directly planting them. If we find these plants to be useful, we can consider them as crops.


len

Alfred Ajibola is a Medical Biochemist, a passionate Academician with over 7 years of experience, a Versatile Writer, a Web Developer, a Cisco Certified Network Associate and a Cisco CyberOps Associate.


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NOTABLE POINTS IN Agricultural Science

There are about 630 different kinds of carnivorous plants.

Carnivorous plants are plants that derive some or most of their nutrients by consuming small animals, especially insects.

Carnivorous plants are also referred to as insectivorous plants.

Some example of carnivorous plants include sundew and Venus flytrap.

Please read more on Carnivorous Plants here

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