Sea Campion Silene at itchwell Marsh RSPB reserve.

Making food

Every food chain starts with sunshine and a green plant.

How plants produce

Without plants, birds and other animals would have nothing to eat. In fact, without plants there would be no life on Earth at all. Think about this next time you see somebody pulling up a thistle or chopping down a tree! 

Light work

Plants are called producers because they make – or produce – their own food. Their roots take up water and minerals from the ground and their leaves absorb a gas called carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air. They convert these ingredients into food by using energy from sunlight. This process is called photosynthesis, which means ‘making out of light’. The foods are called glucose and starch. 

Killer plants

A few plants can grab an extra meal by eating small animals. The sundew lives in boggy areas, where the acid soil is poor in minerals. Sticky tentacles on its leaves trap any small insect that lands on them. The insect dies, and the sundew gradually absorbs its juices to get a special mineral supplement. Even so, most of the growth that sundews make comes directly from photosynthesis.

RSPB Hope Farm, Cambridgeshire