Plants: topic summary

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By John Davis

Our handy topic summaries can be used to support homework, as well as providing helpful collections of related resources for teachers to use in school or for parents to use for home learning.


Make children familiar with the key parts of flowering and non-flowering plants (garden and wild) and trees (deciduous and evergreen) including leaf, stem, petal, root, trunk, branch etc and the important function that each of them performs. All parts have a key job to do – ensure the plant can make its own food to grow. Emphasise the essential elements a plant needs to flourish i.e. light from the Sun, the correct temperature, room to grow and water which helps it extract nutrients from the soil. The leaves are vitally important because they carry out a process known as photosynthesis in which energy from the sun is converted into food. Look at the different habitats in which plants grow and those that prove to be most successful.

Some key terms will be important in talking about plant growth. Flowering plants need to go through the stages of pollination, fertilisation and germination. Most flowering plants are pollinated by insects who visit them to gather nectar. The pollen picked up by the insects is carried on to the next flower where it fertilises eggs to produce seeds. These seeds are then carried away from the parent plant where, if conditions are right, they will germinate and begin to grow. Sometimes seeds are dispersed by wind like sycamore or dandelion, sometimes by animals and birds like berries and sometimes by attaching themselves to animals with hooks or burrs like burdock. Some plants may shake out their seeds by swaying in the wind like the poppy or even explode in hot weather like gorse and pea. Plants living near rivers, ponds or the sea often have their seeds carried away by water.

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