Sign. 1. In botany, a chemical compound not essential to the structural or nutritional needs of a plant, but required for its ability tocommunicate. 2. A compound less involved in the matter or energy of, e.g., an aromatic, spice, or medicinal plant, than in the information it transmits to other plants and animals.
Usage: Conceptually, secondary products may be used as models for the evolution of the messaging features found in diverse consumer product designs. Secondary plant products demonstrate the largely separate evolutionary paths taken by information, matter, and energy (seeNONVERBAL INDEPENDENCE).
Evolution. Many of the estimated hundreds of thousands of secondary plant products (e.g., alkaloids such as nicotine; cyanogenic compounds; flavonoids; insect anti-juvenile hormones; rare amino acids; rubber-like polymers; and terpenoids) evolved for purposes of defense against insects and other plant pests.
Photo of "Arrival of Spring" (Ferris Perennial Garden, Manito Park, Spokane, Washington, USA) by David B. Givens (copyright 2008)