Plant Structure, Function, and Use

Shoots, Stems, and Leaves

In what ways are leaves economically important?

Many leaves are used for food and beverages, dyes and fibers, medicine, and industry— and the list is long. A few of these plants include, for food, plants, such as cabbage (Brassica oleracea), lettuce (Lactuca sativa), spinach (Spinacia oleracea), and most herbs—including parsley (Petroselinum crispum) and thyme (Thymus vulgaris)— which are grown for their edible leaves. Bearberry leaves (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) contain a natural yellow dye, while henna leaves (Lawsonia inermis) contain a natural red dye. The leaves of palm trees are used to make clothing, brooms, and thatched huts in tropical climates. Aloe leaves (Aloe vera) are well known for treating burns and are also used in manufacturing medicated soaps and creams.


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