The idea that plants are “living” is a staple of the modern scientific world, but this was never quite the case in ancient times.
Plants were originally domesticated in Africa by the African hunter-gatherer tribes, and they evolved from wildflower plants into what we know today as flowering plants.
For millennia, we’ve had to work hard to find plants that grow in fields, even if it means cutting them down and planting them somewhere else.
But this doesn’t mean that plants have a natural lifespan.
A growing body of research suggests that the plants that we love and eat are far from the only living beings out there.
It’s a big part of why so many people still look at plants with such affection.
In the late 1800s, Dutch biologist Joop van Rijn showed that when he grew wildflowered plants, he could make them grow as long as he kept them under perfect conditions.
And that was enough for the Dutch botanist to begin to develop his own theory that plants had a natural life span.
Van Rijn’s theory was that the plant could live for a long time, depending on the environment.
So why do we see flowering plants?
To answer that question, we have to go back to a time when plants were much more common.
According to the oldest evidence, plants were originally only used to fertilize the soil.
“When we looked at a plant and found out it had an organ, that organ was part of the plant,” said Michael Ruppert, a botanists at the University of Georgia who specializes in plant and soil biology.
So, in a nutshell, plants became domesticated for fertilizing the soil, and then domesticated again for producing food.
But the first domesticated plants were very small.
The oldest record of domesticated flowering plants dates to around 4,000 years ago.
And the oldest records of wildflowing plants date back only a few hundred years, and it’s not until the 1900s that we begin to find flowering plants in many places around the world.
There are many factors that could have caused domestication of flowering plants, Ruppetson said.
“For instance, the flowering plants were in their infancy and didn’t have a lot of competition from the wild plants.”
In many areas, wild plants still grow today.
In parts of South Africa, wild flowering plants grow in gardens where they can compete with domesticated ones.
And in the United States, wild flowers are grown in the deserts where the desert plants aren’t.
Ruppert said that because wild flowers grow on a range of surfaces, it’s possible that domestication may have started as a natural adaptation.
If we can find other plants that do the same job and produce the same amount of food, it should be possible to create a domesticated version of wild flowers, he said.
The best time to find wild flowers is when you’re in a drought, which has been found to be the optimal time for domesticated wild flowers to grow, Ruprecht said.
For instance, if you live in the Middle East and can grow wild flowers in the summer months, you can probably expect them to grow in your garden as well.
But if you’re not as lucky, you may have to grow wild plants and get them to flourish in a climate where they’re not likely to be able to thrive.
It’s not only flowering plants that can be domesticated, Ruhle said.
The world is full of other wild plants, too.
Wild plants like wild strawberries, wild blackberries, and wild tomatoes are the perfect candidates for farming, Rühr said.
They’re not native to a certain region, so they’re easily available to growers around the globe.
And, in many cases, they’re just as edible as wild flowers.
But, as with wild flowers and wild plants themselves, we can only learn so much from studying the plants.
“If you look at the plants themselves,” Ruppesen said, “you have to be open-minded and think that these plants have some sort of life that’s sustainable and may be better for people.”