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Do Plants Grow Old?

August 17, 2016

What is particularly interesting about plant life is that they don’t grow old. There aren’t gray haired willow trees or ferns with walking sticks. Plants can always have more leaves and taller stems.

A human on the other hand, do age and need exactly one heart, two lungs, four limbs, and etc. Unlike plants, who can have as many leaves as they can, humans cannot have multiple hearts. Thus, wanton growth in humans is deadly. Those humans who could not stop this growth died of cancer.

To prevent this gruesome double heart death, organisms that had a recipe for limbs and hearts evolved a limit to the number of times a cell can reproduce called the Hayflick Limit. This prevented most sudden growth of second hearts, but caused the cells of the organisms to slowly become weaker and fewer in number as the years go on. Eventually, this weakening results in a failure within the organism, resulting in death by old age.

Wanton growth of extra limbs and organs kills quickly and early in life, old age however, takes ones life after several decades, thus giving the aging organism a competitive advantage comparatively. The old age isn’t even selected against in prehistory, as external forces such as lions prevent those aging from ever growing old.

What is key to understanding the life cycle of plants is to realize that all plant growth is good. Plant growth patterns consist of repetitive organs, root stems and leaves, and thus, under the correct circumstances, live forever.

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