Utility of Plants
people depend on plants for their existence. Plants in the form of seeds, specially grains, are important to people because they are the principal ingredients in most people’s diets. Yet most of the plants that are important to people were domesticated, or tamed, in prehistoric times. For example, before history was written, corn and wheat became part of people’s diets. People have grown these grains as crops in small fields for thousands of years.
Scientists have only recently begun to keep records of the domestication of plants. Because of these records, scientists can predict some of the problems in domesticated a plant. On the other hand, there are three reasons why scientists cannot guess all of the problems or all of the solutions. The first reason is that they have never been successful in taming a wild plant. The second reason is that scientists have kept records for a relatively short time. The third reason is that each plant species is unique, different from all other plants.
The jojoba is an example of a plant that scientists are trying to domesticate. The jojoba is a desert plant that grows wild in the dry regions of the south-western United States and northern Mexico. It is a bush that grows to be about two meters high. On its many woody branches, the jojoba produces a fruit that is 40 per cent to 60 per cent liquid wax. This liquid substance, called jojoba oil, is valuable. It can be used as a base for all kinds of cosmetics. It works well as an ingredient in high-quality machine oils. By domesticating the jojoba, scientists hope to change unproductive desert land into productive agricultural land.