Plant stem and its function
The stem is the part of plant that supports the branches and helps the plant to stand erect. The stem is normally divided into nodes and internodes, the nodes hold buds which grow into one or more leaves, flowers, conifer cones, roots, other stems etc. The internodes distance one node from another.

The main stem of a tree is called trunk.

In most plants stems are located above the soil surface but some plants have underground stems. Inside the stem, materials move up and down the tissues of the transport system.

tap root

Six molecules of water plus six molecules of carbon dioxide produce one molecule of sugar plus six molecules of oxygen
Stems have four main functions which are:
  1. Support for and the elevation of leaves, flowers and fruits. The stems keep the leaves in the light and provide a place for the plant to keep its flowers and fruits.
  2. Transport of fluids from roots to leaves and food from leaves to different parts of plant.
  3. Storage of nutrients.
  4. The production of new living tissue. The normal life span of plant cells is one to three years.
Stem usually consist of three tissues, dermal tissue, ground tissue and vascular tissue.
  • The dermal tissue covers the outer surface of the stem and usually functions to waterproof, protect and control gas exchange.
  • The ground tissue usually consists mainly of parenchyma cells and fills in around the vascular tissue. It sometimes functions in photosynthesis.
  • Vascular tissue provides long distance transport and structural support.
Different types of stem
  • Dicot stems
  • Monocot stems
  • Gymnosperm stems
  • Fern stems
Different types of stem
  • Dicot stems
  • Monocot stems
  • Gymnosperm stems
  • Fern stems
Dicot stems :
Dicot stem with primary growth have pith in the center, with vascular bundles forming a distinct ring visible when the stem is viewed in cross section. The outside of the stem is covered with an epidermis, which is covered by a waterproof cuticle. Woody dicots and many nonwoody dicots have secondary growth originating from their lateral or secondary meristems.
Monocot stems :
Vascular bundles are present throughout the monocot stem, although concentrated towards the outside. This differs from the dicot stem that has a ring of vascular bundles and often none in the center.

Monocots rarely produce secondary growth and are therefore seldom woody, with Palms and Bamboo being notable exceptions. However, many monocot stems increase in diameter via anomalous secondary growth.
Gymnosperm stems:
All gymnosperms are woody plants. Their stems are similar in structure to woody dicots except that most gymnosperms produce only tracheids in their xylem, not the vessels found in dicots. Gymnosperm wood also often contains resin ducts. Woody dicots are called hardwoods, e.g. oak, maple and walnut. In contrast, softwoods are gymnosperms, such as pine, spruce and fir.
Fern stems:
Most ferns have rhizomes with no vertical stem. The exception is tree ferns, with vertical stems up to about 20 metres.

Food from plants
Plant stem and its function
Types of forests
Types of palm trees
Types of roots
What's in a seed?

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