ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Learn About Plant Defenses for Kids

Updated on January 19, 2018

Animals have various ways to defend themselves. Skunks spray a stinky liquid at predators that try to attack them. Zebras run together in large groups to confuse predators. Prairie dogs run and hide in holes in the ground. Dogs bite. Like animals, plants often need to defend themselves as well. After all, many animals are herbivores or omnivores. Herbivores eat only plants and omnivores eat both plants and animals. Defenses like poison, thorns, prickles and stinging protect plants from the animals that would eat or damage them.

Thorns help protect a plant from being eaten
Thorns help protect a plant from being eaten

Thorns, Spines and Prickles

You wouldn't want to bite something that has thorns or prickles, right? It would hurt. Many plants have sharp defenses like thorns, prickles and spines that protect them from being eaten by animals. Hawthorn trees have sharp thorns all over their branches. Cactus plants have spines. Rose bushes haves prickles.

The sting from a nettle plant is very painful
The sting from a nettle plant is very painful

Stinging Plants

Stinging plants like nettles have hairs with tubes that are filled with a stinging liquid. The tubes are delicate and break if touched. If an animal touches the plant, the tube breaks and the stinging fluid is injected into its skin. Stinging plants often have hundreds of these hairs that cover the leaves and stem. The chemicals in the stinging liquid can cause skin to become inflamed and irritated.

The 10 Most Common Poisonous Plants

These are the 10 most common poisonous plants according to

  • Wisteria
  • Foxglove
  • Hydrangea
  • Lily-of-the-valley
  • Anthurium
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Oleander
  • Ficus
  • Rhododendron
  • Narcissus

Poisonous Plants

Eating a poisonous plant can cause sickness or even kill. Eating just one leaf from a deadly nightshade plant can cause death. Every part of the plant is poisonous. The berries on a deadly nightshade plant look like edible berries and they even taste sweet. But they're so deadly just 2 to 4 berries could kill a child and 10 to 20 could kill an adult.

When the Greek philosopher Socrates was sentenced to death for his beliefs the court gave him the right to pick how he would die. He choose tea made from the poisonous hemlock plant. Hemlock kills by causing stomach pains, vomiting, paralysis and suffocation.

The painting The Death of Socrates by Jean Francois Pierre Peyron shows the Greek philosopher as he's about to drink hemlock tea
The painting The Death of Socrates by Jean Francois Pierre Peyron shows the Greek philosopher as he's about to drink hemlock tea
Bark protects soft tissue on a tree's trunk. If too much bark is removed the tree will die.
Bark protects soft tissue on a tree's trunk. If too much bark is removed the tree will die.

Rigid Cell Walls and Bark

Plants don't just need protection from animals. They also need protection from bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause disease. A plant's cell wall is strong and makes it difficult for pathogens (germs that can cause disease) to get inside.

Bark on trees serves the same purpose as human skin. It’s a protective outer layer. Bark helps to protect the cambium (layer underneath the bark) from damage caused by insects, weather, animals, and disease causing organisms. A tree can survive if some of its bark is stripped off. But if too much is removed, the tree will die.

Bill Nye The Science Guy - Plants


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • frozenink profile image


      3 years ago

      NICE! =D

    • JoanCA profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Thanks frozenink. I found another version of the video.

    • frozenink profile image


      3 years ago

      This is really a useful Hub for educating children. I like the inclusion of Bill Nye, but i think the video has already been removed.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      3 years ago from Oklahoma

      A fascinating overview of the defenses of plant life.

    • sheilamarie78 profile image


      3 years ago from British Columbia

      Nice approach on teaching kids about plants. Useful information.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)