“Do plants have hair?”

Have you ever seen a hairy plant? Plants can appear to have hair, just like humans and animals, but the technical term for plant hair is trichomes. These are epidermal outgrowths of the plant, similar to how hair is an outgrowth of human skin. However, unlike animal fur, trichomes are often composed of living cells.

Trichomes can vary in structure, appearance, and texture. Some trichomes are fragile, while others are rough; some are branched like tree branches, while others have a star-like shape; some are long and straight, while others are short and curly.

Just like the fur of mammals serves various protective purposes, including insulation and camouflage, trichomes protect leaf cells from freezing or, by reducing evaporation, from heat and wind.

In many cases, trichomes protect plants from insect herbivory. In other cases, if the trichomes are particularly stiff or irritating, they can protect the plant from larger herbivores such as mammals.

The dense covering of small hairs on the surface of some plants is called pubescence.




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