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Plants are a major group of life forms and include familiar organisms such as trees, herbs, shrubs, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. About 350,000 species of plants, defined as seed plants, bryophytes, ferns and fern allies, are estimated to exist currently. As of 2004, some 287,655 species had been identified, of which 258,650 are flowering and 15,000 bryophytes. Green plants, sometimes called metaphytes, obtain most of their energy from sunlight via a process called photosynthesis.

Aristotle divided all living things between plants (which generally do not move), and animals (which often are mobile to catch their food). In Linnaeus' system, these became the Kingdoms Vegetabilia (later Metaphyta or Plantae) and Animalia (also called Metazoa). Since then, it has become clear that the Plantae as originally defined included several unrelated groups, and the fungi and several groups of algae were removed to new kingdoms. However, these are still often considered plants in many contexts, both technical and popular. Indeed, an attempt to perfectly match "plant" with a single taxon is problematic, because for most people the term plant is only vaguely related to the phylogenic concepts on which modern taxonomy and systematics are based.

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Norway Spruce
Old Tjikko is a 9,550 year old Norway Spruce tree, located on Fulufjället Mountain of Dalarna province in Sweden. Old Tjikko is the world's oldest living individual clonal tree, however, there are many examples of much older clonal colonies (multiple trees connected by a common root system), such as "Pando", estimated to be over 80,000 years old. The age of the tree was determined by carbon dating of the root system under the tree, not by dendrochronology, or counting tree rings. The trunk itself is estimated to be only a few hundred years old, but the tree as a whole may have survived for much longer due to a process known as layering (when a branch comes in contact with the ground, it sprouts a new root), or vegetative cloning (when the trunk dies but the root system is still alive, it may sprout a new trunk). The oldest living non-clonal tree, verified by dendrochronology, is "Methuselah" (4,800 years old), a Great Basin Bristlecone Pine in California. Vegetative cloning and reproduction is common in many plants, such as the creosote bush (see "King Clone", estimated from growth rate to be almost 12,000 years old). Many other plants also may take advantage of this process either exclusively or in tandem with sexual reproduction, but dating or estimating the age of these organisms may not be possible without evidence (e.g., old roots, ancient remains, consistent growth rates).

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Grandidier's Baobab, Adansonia grandidieri (Malvaceae)
Cscr-featured.svg Credit: Bernard Gagnon

Adansonia grandidieri (Grandidier's Baobab), the biggest and most famous of Madagascar’s six baobabs, is an endangered species in the genus Adansonia. It is endemic to Madagascar. A. grandidieri is named to commemorate the French botanist and explorer, Alfred Grandidier (1836–1921).

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