Agricultural Science

Differences between a Plant and a Crop

Olawunmi Omosanya - Sat, 16th March, 2019 @ 16:47: PM

Plants VS Crops?

Agricultural science as a subject focuses a lot on plants and animals (not crop 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 these words as this article will attempt to make them clearer.


What is a Plant?

All plants belongs to the kingdom plantae. The word plant is a generic name in the sense that at the level of a cell (plant cell), all plants must have a chloroplast (a chloroplast houses the chlorophyll). Plants also have got a large vacoule within a cytoplasm that is bordered by the cellulose cell wall. The chlorophyll is the component that is responsible for giving plants their characteristic green coloration. Photosynthesis takes place inside the chloroplast of a plant cell. Although most plants are producers in a food chain, some are actually parasitic. Parasitic plants depend on their host for food in addition to carrying out photosynthesis. Examples of parasitic plants are mistletoe, bird's-nest orchid, cactus mistletoe and the corpse flower. Plants can also be carnivorous (plants that derive some or most of their nutrients by consuming insects and protozoans). E.g Venus flytrap and pitcher plant. These plants may also be referred to as insectivorous plants. Plants can also be trees and shrubs. In a rainforest zone, we will see a variety of plants in contrast to the kind of plants seen on savannah. Plants can also be categorized as non-flowering and flowering (monocotyledons and dicotyledons are flowering plants based on the number of embryonic seed leaf or cotyledon). Don't forget that weeds are plants growing where they are neither wanted nor desired. There are actually much more to what plants are, but lastly, a crop is also a plant.

You can see that from our little explanation, the term plant can be very broad.


What is a Crop?

Any plant that is grown (by humans) for the purpose of food, money or something beneficial can be regarded as a crop. We will normally harvest our crop (and not plant) when the time of harvest is right. Most time, crops can be categorized based on different factors. These include

  • Life cycles: e.g annual, biannual and perennial crops.

  • Purpose of cultivation: e.g horticulture, medicinal and manure crops.

  • Economic value: e.g cereals, tubers, spices and legumes.

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

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