Nearly all plants photosynthesize. It is how they get energy to survive, since they don't have mouths to eat food. Even carnivorous plants (pitcher plant, venus fly trap) photosynthesize because what they eat gives them nutrients like protein but not much energy. The one rare exception are parasitic plants. Parasitic plants don't have regular roots - they stick roots into other plants and steal nutrients from those plants. Even then, most parasites photosynthesize themselves and mostly steal nutrients. There are some, however, that don't photosynthesize at all -- often parasites on roots that live underground. I've seen "Ghost pipe" in Michigan so it is probably in Ohio, too, as well as a few others. These can be recognized as full parasites because they have no green parts (occasionally you'll see red/purple or yellow parts that can photosynthesize in some plants, but photosynthesis is almost always green and never white). https://www.botany.org/Parasitic_Plants/
One little diversion - this is a video of a parasitic plant that does photosynthesize, but is interesting anyway. Did you know that mistletoe (like christmas mistletoe) is a parasite on other plants? And that it has seeds that are really sticky so a bird has to wipe them off its butt after eating them, which is what gets them dispersed to new branches to grow on? Weird, huh? Tell your family that at Christmas. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQnaIZtbv18
For my favorite plant, I'll tell you what I told Nathan when he asked the same question: I'm not sure I have a favorite.... Maybe the sundews because they're so weird, or columbines for their unusual flowers. Actually, I think my favorites are anything in the Ericaceae family like azaleas, rhododendron and especially Mountain Laurel. Mountain Laurels have pretty color on the wood and bark, they grow in lots of beautiful places, but rarely in ugly places, and have really curious flowers. The flowers are pretty white clusters with spots on them. When a bee lands to drink some nectar -- THWACK an anther flies forward and slams a sticky bit of pollen on the bee's back.
Like so many of the mentors I'm lucky to work with this session, Jeff has gone above and beyond asking and answering questions with his team, but involves them in topics the kids find it easy to get passionate and curious about. This school group LOVES weird plants! His links and details about carnivorous and non-photosynthesizing and parasitic plants I think will really open the students minds beyond just this photosynthesis project (while still being helpful and on topic!)
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1502892.
Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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