Plants play an extremely important role in our lives. We use plants for many different things including food, lumber, medicine and much more. .

Most of the world's food source comes from corn, wheat and rice, which are three flowering plants. Corn was first cultivated in Central America about 7,000 years ago and was developed from a plant called teosinte. There were over 300 different varieties by the time the Europeans were exploring Central America. Today, we only six varieties: sweet, pop, flour, dent, pod, and flint. .

Wheat was first cultivated in the Near East (Iran, Iraq) in about 8000 B.C., and was thought to be the earliest cultivated plant. Wheat was brought to America around the 1520's by early settlers and now is the largest producer of wheat in the world. .

Rice was discovered in Asia thousands of years ago, and it grew in swamps. We are familiar with the two kinds of rice, brown and white. Leaving the seed coat and embryo on the grain of rice creates brown rice. When it is removed, white rice is created. Today rice is grown in the tropics and subtropics where there is no shortage of water. .

Sugar is something that the world has become addicted to. Sugar is grown from two plants: sugarcane, which grows in South America, Africa and Asia, and the Caribbean, and sugar beets which grows mostly in Europe and accounts for 50% of the worlds sugar. .

Most of the drinks that we enjoy today come from plants. Coffee, tea and cola all come from different plants. Coffee originated in Ethiopia where it was used to fight fatigue on long trips. It was not introduced as a drink until the thirteenth century in Arabia and Turkey. .

Tea has been thought to originate in Asia. It was first used for medicinal purposes in China, where many still use tea for this reason. Tea as we know it today was not developed until the fourth century. .

Cola was a popular ingredient used in tropical drinks around the turn of the century, along with the drug coca.