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Do Plants Have Hairs: Here’s why

Hairs are structures on plants’ leaves, stems, or roots and are used for the absorption of water and nutrients.

Some plants can have hairs on both roots and stems. These can be seen as fine outgrowths or appendages on plants, algae, lichens, and certain protists. They protect the plant from the sun, wind, rain, & other harsh elements as well as help to deter insects, bacteria, and fungi.

But there is a lot to understand regarding plant hairs. Often there is no concise information found on the plant hairs. It is scattered all around. 

This topic is crucial because plant hairs play an essential role in the functioning of the plant. 

Want to know more about plant hairs? Keep reading the article to know more about it. You are going to have valuable information on plant hairs. 

What Are Plant Hairs

Micro hair plant under microscope
Micro hair plant under a microscope

Plant hairs are tiny, hair-like structures that cover the surface of a plant. They are botanically called trichomes.

They have different characteristics depending on their location on the plant. For example, they can be found on leaves, stems, and flowers. 

Depending on the plant species, they can also be found in different shapes and sizes. These help in trapping dust and other small particles.

They are one of the essential parts of a plant because they help ensure that water is distributed evenly throughout the plant. 

Besides this, hairs also ensure that plants can keep themselves warm, cool, and protected. 

They also help break up smaller droplets of water into larger ones, allowing more water to enter the plant’s tissues.

Plant hairs also work as a respiratory system for plants because they take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen through the pores on their surfaces.

Why do Plants Have Hairs

vine plant with hairs

Plant hairs, technically called trichomes, are essential for the plant. They are usually found on the surface of the plant, and they serve a variety of purposes.

Some plants use their hairs to help them capture or hold water; others use them to collect pollen from the air, and some plants use their hairs to protect themselves from insects.

Plant hairs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They can be long, short, thick, thin, curly, straight, or even sticky.

They are typical parts of plant structure used to increase the surface area of the plant. Plant hair can be found on leaves, stems, roots, and even flowers.

These are one of the most diverse types of plant structures. They have various functions, which include protection from herbivores and pathogens.

Plants have a variety of hairs, from short and stiff to long and soft, depending on their function. For example, a plant’s hair might help it trap water or prevent animals from eating it.

They can be used for several functions, such as trapping water molecules, preventing insects from eating the plant or even helping photosynthesize

Some plants have hairs because they are dry and need to conserve water. Other plants may not have any hairs because they live in a too wet or humid area.

Types of Plant Hairs

Plant hairs play a vital role in photosynthesis, which is the process by which plants convert light energy into chemical energy.

They are typically divided into three types: Root hairs, hairs on stems, and hairs on leaves. 

It becomes of utmost importance to understand these types in detail to get to know about plant hairs elaborately. 

Root Hairs

Root hairs are present in the region of maturation of the roots of plants. Alternatively, root hairs are also called absorbent hairs. 

They are single tubular root cells. They are the cylindrical extensions in the single layer of epidermal cells. They are always unbranched. 

Their major function is to help in increasing the surface area of the plant for the better absorption of water and minerals from the soil. The life span of the root hairs is short-lived. 

Hairs on Stem 

Stem hair is the multicellular structure in the plant. Unlike root hairs, they are not the outgrowth of the epidermis. 

Hairs on the stem are distributed throughout the stem of the plant. The primary function of stem hair is to reduce the rate of transpiration

Besides this, stem hairs are cutinized, and they can be branched or unbranched according to our own choice. 

Unlike root hairs, hairs on stems have a longer life span. They are present all over the stem. 

To summarise, we can say that root hair is the first type of hair that grows from the root of a plant. They are short and have a wide diameter. 

Hairs on stems are longer and thinner than root hairs. Hairs on leaves are even longer and thinner than hairs on stems.

Hairs on Leaves 

The hairs present on the plant’s leaves are a type of trichome. Trichomes are small, hair-like structures that cover the surface of many plants. 

They are found on both the upper and lower surfaces of leaves, stems, and flowers.

Leaf hairs are used to reflect the sunlight on the plant’s surface. They also reduce the movement of air on their surface which results in less transpiration. 

Besides this, leaf hairs minimize water by creating a humid microclimate. This results in reducing the evaporation rate. 

They also act as a defense to protect the leaf from harmful UV radiation. They absorb all the UV chemicals. 

Plants That Trichomes are Common

Many plants have microscopic hairs on their leaves, stems, flowers, and fruits. These are called trichomes. 

Trichomes can vary in shape and size from plant to plant. They can be either non-poisonous or poisonous to insects and other animals that try to eat the plant.

Plants with trichomes are a type of plant with various shapes and sizes. For example, they can be found on many plants, including cannabis plants. 

Cannabis trichomes are used for medicinal purposes because they contain cannabinoids shown to have therapeutic effects for humans.

Some plants have trichomes in common because they act as a defense mechanism. They are used to protect the plant from predators and parasites.

They may also help plants retain water and keep them cool in hot weather.

The following is a list of some common plants that have trichomes:

Do Plants Hairs Cause Itch on Skin

Plants’ hairs are also known as epidermal hairs. These hairs are the most visible part of the plant, and they help with photosynthesis.

The answer to whether plant hairs can cause itching to the skin or not depends upon the type of plant you are touching. So, yes, if the plant is poisonous to your skin, then it will irritate your skin and cause itching.

Some plants cause itching on the skin because of their pollen, sap, or leaves. 

Plant hairs are spiky, stiff, and sharp. They are not like human hair, which is soft and smooth. They can cause an itch on the skin because they are sharp and prick the skin when they contact it.

Plants have a variety of hairs that can cause itching on the skin. These hairs are called trichomes, and they are found on the leaves, stems, and flowers of plants. Trichomes are usually not visible to the naked eye but can be seen with a microscope.

The most common type of plant hair is called stinging or urticating hair. These hairs contain chemicals that irritate the skin and cause an itchy sensation when touched. The chemicals in these hairs can also cause allergic reactions in some people.

Some plants, like the pineapple, are covered in these hairs. These hairs are harmless and can’t cause itching on the skin. 

However, plants like poison ivy can irritate the skin because of their chemicals. 

Plant hairs can cause itching on the skin because they have tiny barbs that can get stuck in your skin. When you brush against them or rub your skin against them, they can cause an allergic reaction.

Therefore, you can say that not all plants can cause itching to your skin. It all depends upon the plant’s hair properties. Some plants can cause skin irritation, inflammation, etc. Some of these plants have been listed below: 

  • Poison Ivy 
  • Poison oak
  • Tomato
  • Strawberry 
  • Poison Sumac 
  • Borage 
  • Hot Peppers 
  • Rosehip
  • Daffodil Bulbs 
  • Tulip Bulbs 
  • Comfrey 
  • Garlic 
  • Hyacinth Bulbs 
  • Wood Nettle 
  • Ragweed 
  • Baby’s Breath 
  • Leadwort 
  • Stinging nettle 

These were some plants that you could consider not touching. Otherwise, you may face itching on your skin. 

Hence, it can be said that some plants have hairs that play an essential role. They help in absorbing the plants and nutrients. 

Plant hairs are present on different parts of plants like leaves, stems, and roots. They are additionally used to protect the plants from various elements like sun, wind, rain, etc. 

They should not be blindly touched upon as some plants are poisonous and can cause rashes and itching on your skin.  

Plant hairs are an essential component of plants. Botanically, they are also known as trichomes. 

We hope you have gained all the knowledge regarding plant hairs and their varied importance.

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