How Do Humans Use Plants?

Humans use plants in many ways, including producing foods, medicine, clothing, shelter, lighting products, dyes and cosmetics. Plants appear in many commercial and industrial products, including insulation, pipes, plastic and roofing materials. Plants serve many functional purposes and offer aesthetic value too, forming interior decorations and creating landscapes in commercial and residential settings.

Plants differ widely in physical characteristics, making them suitable for different uses. Some plants, such as dandelions, fruits and even cacti, provide food and nutrition for people around the world. In Australia, Aboriginal societies consume and cultivate tubers, roots, seeds and nuts. Ancient Greeks first made olive oil, which is derived from plants and appears in many culinary items today.

Plants comprise many household products, including soap, lotion and hair products. They appear in personal hygiene products too, forming fragrances for deodorants and perfumes. The mint plant is used for toothpaste, mouthwash and gum, protecting teeth and freshening breath. Plant extracts appear in food dyes and flavorings. They give shape to bottles and containers, and comprise wooden corks.

Plant fibers help construct many household items too, ranging from brooms and string to resin and musical instruments. Plants also see widespread use in medicine; foxglove extracts appear in medicines for heart conditions, and daffodil bulbs might help combat effects of Alzheimer's disease. Outside, growing plants filter the air and provide visually attractive displays.