Nutrition: How to get energy

Making the food:
Similar to most plants, the Macadamia tetraphylla  is an autotroph, or it makes its own food (there are some crazy plants that actually eat things though, check out the Venus Fly Trap if you're interested).  It acquires its food via photosynthesis.  Since this is not an introductory biology class, I will just quickly summarize what photosynthesis is and how this helps the plant obtain nutrition (more info on photosynthesis here). 
    First, the chlorophyll in the plant absorbs light photons and excites electrons which go through a chain of enzymes helping to generate energy.  From this generated energy, some of it is used by the plant to take inorganic carbon (in the form of CO2) and turn it into organic carbon in the form of sugars (carbohydrates).  These sugars are then transported from the leaves throughout the entire plant via phloem.  The phloem carry the sugars and other nutrients to every part of the plant.

Breaking the food down:
    Now most people know that plants undergo photosynthesis.  However, what a good portion of people are oblivious of is the fact that plants also undergo cellular respiration just like you and me!*  So, after the plant is done creating some energy and carbohydrates via photosynthesis, it stores the extra sugars as starch.  The starch is stored within the cells until the plant needs more energy.  From there, cellular respiration takes place and the starch is broken down, glucose molecule by glucose molecule.
*If you didn't know this, then you learn something everyday.  If you did know this, then bravo. 

Getting the ingredients:
    The inorganic carbon that the plant takes in during photosynthesis comes from the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.  The CO2 enters through the stomata of the leaves and then enters the cells of the mesophyll via diffusion.  Water is obtained through the web of roots beneath the surface of the ground (good picture of roots on Adaptation page).  The roots take in the water, as well as other vital nutrients, and transport the H2O via xylem.  The xylem are the vascular tissue that carry water and nutrients within the plant.  Some of the transported nutrients that are vital to the health of the plant are: calcium, phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium.  These are generally taken in through the roots.  Sometimes, mutualistic mycorrhizal fungi are present.  These fungi help in the collection of more water and nutrients for the plant.  A great site to help learn/see all the types of fungi is Dr. Volk's Fungi Website

Morphology aiding in nutrition:
    The leaves of the Macadamia are very broad and spread out.  This helps in more surface area exposed to the sunlight, allowing for the increased number of photons to be absorbed, which allows for as many as possible chloroplasts to be used.  This would result in more sugar.  Therefore, the morphological features of the leaves of the Macadamia tetraphylla greatly increase its photosynthetic abilities.  Also, the vast root systems allows for a lot of nutrient uptake, which is needed for the plant for proper nutrition. 

Nutrition to us:   
    In addition to the plant itself getting energy, we, as humans, can obtain energy from the Macadamia tetraphylla.  The edible nut that is now commercially produced is high in calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin B, protein, and (healthly) fat.  Moreover, not only is the nut very healthy, but it is also very delicious.  There are many uses for the macadamia nut, including one of my favorite cookie recipes (if you're interested in the recipe I have it written down under the Facts section).  Along with the cookies, macadamia nuts are eaten either raw or cooked, and are used in foods from cakes and ice cream, to flour, to an edible oil.  As of now, the Macadamia nut is a sustainable food source due to cultivation (see Reproduction).
    We are not, however, the only organisms that eat the Macadamia nut.  Many small rodents and other animals, such as squirrels, rabbits, and many birds, eat these nuts because of their taste and high nutrition.  Animals that incorporate these nuts into their diets are receiving a very high and nutritional food source, which helps them in their life cycles.  Another highly eaten nut is the Brazil Nut.  I would recommend you check it out!

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