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Research And Explain Why Plants Produce Essential Oils (Essay Sample)


Explain why plants produce essential oils, and be sure to include specific examples.

Why plants produce essential oils
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Essential oils are the naturally occurring compounds in plants that give them the distinctive volatile aromatic characteristics. These compounds are in form of small organic molecules that tentatively transform in state from solid or liquid to gaseous form under normal conditions. The term ‘essential’ in plants’ essential oils does not necessarily mean that plants need the oils for their survival. These oils are not produced by all types of plants, and those which do, produce the oils in their leaves, flowers, fruits and stems (Manion, C. R., & Widder, R. M. (2017). Various types of plants produce different kinds of essential oils. These oils are the ones that make a plant to produce the sweet smelling scent like the one we get from the rose flower.
Plants produce essential oils for various purposes like plant pollination, communication, plant-to-plant competition and self defense mechanism. The chemical composition of the plant essential oils keeps on constantly changing to enable the plant to adapt to constantly changing environment both internally and externally. For the defensive part, the plant uses the oils to protect itself from pathogenic organisms such as harmful bacteria and fungi an example is the production of sesquiterpene lactones in feverfew, yarrow, and blessed thistle plants.
Herbivorous mammals that feed on plants can also be deterred from their target plant by the odor produced by the plant Manion, C. R., & Widder, R. M. (2017). The sweet smell produced from the essential oil compounds of a plant attracts insects species such as the bees to land on its flowers, which consequently results to the transfer pollen to other similar plants’ flowers and hence aide in the pollination process. In some cases, plants also use the essential oil production as a communication means to send a warning to other plants of the same species if a predator has been identified where the recipients of the message will react to the warning message by increasing the rate of defensive chemicals production.
Surprisingly, plants also fighting competition from other plants by producing compounds which are toxic to competing plant species hence preventing them from thriving in their environs. An example is the Southern California shrub Salvia leucophylla and Artemisia californica, which have been found to produce terpenoids, eucalyptol and camphor to the environments, effectively inhibiting the growth of other plants around them (Amri, I., et al, 2013). In some plants, the essential oils are used to help the plant to adapt to harsh climatic conditions by lining the plant leaves to prevent the loss of water. There are so many types of essential oils from different plants but here is a list of some;- cedarwood oils, peppermint, Citrus oils, rose oils, cinnamon oil...
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