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Topic – Don’t Eat My Leaves!

Read the Following Selection

Read the following selection, or click on the play button below to listen aloud.

Don’t Eat My Leaves!

A close-up look at a sharp, long hair and short hairs on a stinging nettle.

Animals have ways to protect themselves. When an enemy wants to eat an animal, there are things the animal can do. A skunk can spray a nasty smell. A bird can fly up into a tree. A turtle can go inside its shell.

Plants have enemies, too. Many animals eat the leaves of plants. A plant’s leaves make food for the plant. A plant can die if animals eat too many of its leaves. Some plants have ways to protect themselves.


Corn is a tall plant with very long, green leaves. Caterpillars like to eat the leaves of corn plants. When caterpillars start to eat a corn plant’s leaves, the plant gives off a special smell. Humans can’t smell it, but wasps can. Wasps follow the smell to the plant. Wasps like to eat caterpillars, so wasps save the corn plant by eating up all the caterpillars.

Stinging Nettle

A stinging nettle plant has green leaves with points all around the edge. The leaves are covered with small hairs. Some of the hairs are short, and some are long and sharp. When animals try to eat this plant, the long, sharp hairs go into the animals’ skin. Each long hair is like a stinger. It stings the animal’s skin. Animals don’t want to eat this plant because they will get many small stings. People stay away from this plant because it will sting human skin, too!

Fact File: Many cactus plants are covered with long, sharp needles called spines. You can guess why animals do not want to eat this plant!

Now, show what you know!

Complete some questions about the reading selection by clicking “Begin Questions” below.

Brain Stretch: Look online at photos of poison ivy, the leaves grow in groups of three. Why should you avoid this plant when in wilderness areas?