You probably think of C4 plants as the kind that gives you a wicked sunburn. But there’s more to these plants than just their ability to make you crispy – they’re also some of the most efficient photosynthesizers on Earth!
Here, you’ll get to know some of the most well-known c4 plants out there.
What Are C4 Plants?
C4 plants are a type of plant that has an adaptation that allows it to better fix carbon dioxide gas. This process is called C4 photosynthesis, and it enables the plant to convert carbon dioxide gas into organic matter more efficiently than other types of plants including C3 plants.
C4 plants are mostly found in tropical and subtropical regions, as they require high temperatures and lots of sunlight to perform C4 photosynthesis effectively. Some of the C4 plants include maize, bermuda grass, and millet.
Scientists believe that C4 photosynthesis evolved independently in different plant lineages, as it is a very complex process.
However, all C4 plants share a common feature: they all have specialised cells that surround their leaf pores, called bundle sheath cells. These cells help the plant to better capture and use carbon dioxide gas for photosynthesis.
A List of Drought-Resistant C4 Plants
Scientific Name: Saccharum officinarum
Species: S. officinarum
Sugarcane is a tropical plant that is native to the warm, moist climates of South and Southeast Asia.
Many might not know that sugarcane is a C4 plant, in fact, it is one of the most important C4 crops in the world.
Because it is used to produce sugar, molasses, ethanol, and animal feed.
Sugarcane is a versatile crop that can be grown in a wide range of climatic conditions. It prefers tropical and subtropical climates but can also be grown in cooler temperate regions. However, it is sensitive to frost and does not tolerate waterlogged soils.
Scientific Name: Panicum virgatum
Species: P. virgatum
Switchgrass is often used as a cover crop or forage crop, and it is also a key component of many prairie ecosystems.
It is a hardy C4 plant that can tolerate poor soils and dry conditions and grows in clumps, and can reach up to six feet in height.
The leaves of switchgrass are blue-green in color and have a V-shaped tip. The plant flowers from June to August, producing greenish-brown inflorescences.
This plant is an important food source for many animals, including deer, rabbits, and birds. It is also used as a biofuel crop due to its high energy content.
Scientific Name: Zea mays
Species: Z. mays
Is there anything more American than a good ear of corn? Sweet, crunchy, and delicious, Maize is a summertime staple.
But did you know that corn is actually a type of grass? That’s right – the same stuff that you mow your lawn with is related to those tasty yellow kernels. Corn was first domesticated by Native Americans over 7,000 years ago, and it has been an important part of the American diet ever since.
The corn plant is an important part of the global food supply, and it plays a vital role in the economy of many countries.
Scientific Name: Cenchrus americanus
Species: C. americanus
Millet is a grassy crop that is cultivated in many parts of the world. It is a highly nutritious grain and is, therefore, an important food source for many people.
It is also used as animal feed and can be used to make alcohol or biofuel. The plant itself is relatively drought-resistant and can therefore be grown in arid conditions.
Millet is also known to contain high levels of fiber, iron, and magnesium. Consequently, it offers a range of health benefits, including improved digestion and lowered blood pressure.
Scientific Name: Cynodon dactylon
Species: C. dactylon
It is a type of warm-season turfgrass that is commonly used on golf courses, sports fields, and lawns.
Bermuda grass is known for its ability to tolerate high temperatures and heavy foot traffic. But it does have some drawbacks.
For example, it tends to turn brown in the winter, and it can be difficult to control its growth. In addition, this grass is a common host for chinch bugs, a type of insect that feeds on the grasses’ leaves. As a result, Bermuda grass requires regular maintenance in order to stay healthy and look its best.
Species. Sorghum bicolor
It is a type of cereal grain that is native to Africa. This one is commonly used as animal feed. However, it can also be used for human consumption.
The grain can be ground into flour, which can be used to make bread, pasta, and other dishes. Sorghum syrup is another popular product made from the grain.
This type of syrup is similar to molasses and can be used as a sweetener in baked goods and beverages.
The C4 plant is also gaining popularity as a biofuel source. When fermented, sorghum produces ethanol, which can be used as an alternative to gasoline.
Scientific Name: Cleome gynandra
Species: C. gynandra
It is an ideal C4 plant and also known as Spiderwisp, is a flowering plant in the genus Cleome. It is native to Africa and occurs in savannas, woodlands, and deforested areas.
The plant is an annual or biennial herb growing to 1–2 m tall. The leaves are pinnately compound with 3-7 leaflets, each leaflet 2-4 cm long and 1-2 cm wide. The flowers are borne in terminal panicles or corymbs. The sepals and petals are pink, purple, or white. The fruit is a capsule containing many small black seeds.