Lessons from Plants
An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To illustrate the diversity of the world by considering facts about plants.
Preparation and materials
Have available the following images and the means to display them during the assembly:
- orchids, available at: https://tinyurl.com/jnflhvp
- orchid seeds, available at: https://tinyurl.com/jg2xa62
- puffball fungus, available at: https://tinyurl.com/yywmm78l
- Rafflesia, available at: https://tinyurl.com/hzt8lce
- a giant redwood tree, available at: https://tinyurl.com/zp57rk7
Optional: you may wish to display the facts listed in the ‘Assembly’, Step 2, in which case you will also need the means to do this.
According to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, excluding algae, mosses, liverworts and hornworts, there are 390,900 plants known to science. The smallest moss, or leaf, is so tiny that it is no larger than a full stop. The trunk of the largest tree in the world weighs an estimated 1,385 tonnes.
Here are some interesting facts about the variety within these extremes.
- The oldest living plant is thought to be a bush similar to holly, found in Tasmania. It is called Lomatia tasmanica (king’s holly) and is thought to be over 43,000 years old.
- Some plants grow at an incredible rate. Some species of bamboo, for example, grow 90 cm a day. By contrast, some lichens are so slow-growing that they can take 100 years to cover the area of a postage stamp.
Show the images of orchids and orchid seeds.
- Seeds are amazing. It would take about 25 million orchid seeds to fill one tablespoon, but one seed of the coco de mer palm can weigh as much as 25 kg.
Show the image of the puffball fungus.
- A death cap mushroom can kill in minutes. The fruit of the giant puffball fungus has a circumference of some 2 metres.
Show the image of Rafflesia.
- Size isn’t everything. The smelliest flower is the Rafflesia flower. With a diameter of over 100 cm, it’s wider than a car tyre, weighs up to 10 kg and smells of rotten meat, which is apparently a great way to attract insects for pollination.
Show the images of giant redwood trees.
- The tallest trees in the world are redwoods. One redwood tree stands in California’s Redwood National Park at over 115.7 metres tall, which is taller than Big Ben. The largest tree in the world is a giant sequoia called General Sherman, which has a volume of 1,487 cubic metres, more than half the volume of an Olympic-size swimming pool.
- The oldest tree in the world is a Great Basin bristlecone pine in California. It is over 5,000 years old.
- African baobab trees can store hundreds of litres of water in their trunk to cope with times of drought.
The variety of plants is amazing.
- There are differences in size.
- There are differences in appearance.
- They have different individual qualities, such as their power, purpose and attributes.
- There are differences in development, even within a species. You won’t get one plant identical to another: each is part of a pattern of life that has interdependence running through a shared existence.
It’s important for us to remember to respect and value life in all its diversity. We are increasingly made aware of the need for conservation and the effects of our exploitation of limited resources.
Time for reflection
Many Christians believe that it is important to stand up for issues relating to the value of God’s creation in the natural world. This means valuing and respecting each other, too.
Thank you for the beauty and wonder that we see in the world.
Thank you for the diversity in plants, animals and people.
Help us to value all that is different.
Help us to value and respect each other.