Plants…And the Mysterious Transformation of Sunlight into Substance


All life begins with plants. Well, to be truthful, we don’t know exactly how life BEGINS.

There appears to be some original “something” that makes life happen at all. There’s something that causes all the little molecules of our universe to exist and to assemble into this amazing array of organisms, soil, water and sunlight that somehow all work well together. How that happens is a subject of great debate, but starting from there, what makes life tangible, livable and even possible for us humans…is PLANTS. And in large part: trees.

It’s an ironic situation, sort of hidden in plain sight. We generally take plants for granted, plucking them up and putting them down to support our aesthetic and commercial needs, or appreciating their beauty when walking outside.  But do we credit them for Life as we know it? Do we care for them in a way that reflects that primary role? Probably not.

Plants are the only living system that can turn sunlight into food.  They basically create themselves and then create everything else the planet needs to survive. Through the process of photosynthesis (which literally translates to “making things with light”), plants take energy from sunlight and use it to convert water, minerals and carbon dioxide into an energy-rich sugar that we call glucose. The plant then uses some of this to grow, and stores the rest for its own roots, stems, leaves and fruit. These parts of the plant then become the basis of the food chain, feeding the rest of earth’s inhabitants, including us. The process is pretty mysterious and amazing if you think about it. I just wonder how many of us really give it some thought.