LIFE, with David Attenborough (2009) BBC

Episode 9: Plants

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Video Description

Plants endure a daily struggle for water, nutrients and light. On the forest floor where light is scarce, time-lapse shots show ivies and creepers climbing into the canopy using sticky pads, hooks or coiled tendrils. Epiphytes grow directly on the topmost branches of trees. Their bare roots absorb water and trap falling leaves, which provide nutrients as they decompose. Animals can also be a source of food: the sundew traps mosquitoes with sticky fluid, and venus flytraps close their clamshell leaves on unwitting insects. Sandhill milkweed defends itself against feeding monarch caterpillars by secreting sticky latex from its leaves. The milkweed endures the onslaught because, like most plants, it produces flowers, and the newly-hatched butterflies pollinate them. After flowering, brunsvigia plants in South Africa are snapped off by strong winds, sending their seed heads cartwheeling across the ground. Saguaro cacti produce succulent fruit to attract desert animals which ingest and disperse their seeds. Some plants have adapted to survive environmental extremes. Dragon's blood trees and desert roses thrive on arid Socotra, and coastal mangrove trees survive by filtering salt from seawater. Bristlecone pines live above 3,000m in North America’s mountains. They have a six-week growing season and can live for 5,000 years, making them the oldest living things on Earth. Grasses are the most successful of all plants. Of their 10,000 varieties, two cover more land than any other plant: rice and wheat. Life on Location goes behind the scenes of a time-lapse sequence in an English woodland. Because actually growing plants outdoors would prove a challenge to film (with constantly changing conditions) this scene used plants grown in a studio on a bluescreen duplicating a real outdoor backdrop. The entire process took two years to make.

Documentary Description

Life is a nature documentary series made by BBC television, first broadcast as part of the BBC's Darwin Season on BBC One and BBC HD from October to December 2009. The series takes a global view of the specialised strategies and extreme behaviour that living things have developed in order to survive; what Charles Darwin termed "the struggle for existence". Four years in the making, the series was shot entirely in high definition.

The UK broadcast of Life consists of ten 50-minute episodes. The opening programme gives a general introduction to the series, a second looks at plants, and the remainder are dedicated to the major animal groups. They aim to show common features that have contributed to the success of each group, and to document intimate and dramatic moments in the lives of selected species chosen for their charisma or their extraordinary behaviour. A ten-minute making-of feature Life on Location aired at the end of each episode, taking the total running time to 60 minutes.

Life is produced by the BBC Natural History Unit in association with the Discovery Channel, Skai TV and the Open University. The original script, used in the British and Canadian versions of the series, was written and narrated by David Attenborough.
Source: Wikipedia

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