Cambium: Definition & Function

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  • 0:01 What Is a Cambium?
  • 1:22 What Does the Cambium Do?
  • 2:20 Types of Cambium
  • 3:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Brekke Peterson Munks
Do you know the definition of cambium? If not, this lesson is just for you! It defines and explains the importance and function of the cambium in plants, as well as identifies the various types of cambium.

What Is a Cambium?

Do you know that there is a part of plant similar to a growth plate, or the place where bones develop in humans? This part is called the cambium. The cambium is a group of meristem cells that are parallel to one another and encircle the stem of a plant. The cambium gives rise to secondary xylem and phloem cells.

Wow, vocabulary overload! Meristem cells are the equivalent of human stem cells, which are undifferentiated cells. Simply put, meristem cells can become any cell in a plant - from new plant organs to basic structural cells.

Secondary cells are cells that develop after primary growth. Xylem is a very important organelle to any plant; it carries water and some nutrients from the soil or growth medium to other parts of the plant. The xylem is often thought of as a non-living structural part of a plant that is vital to plant life. You might think of it as a city's pipe system, carrying water to each of that city's houses. Phloem carries organic nutrients, like sugars, through the plant for use in energy production. The phloem is a living network of cells on the outer part of a plant stem, while the xylem is closer to the center.

What Does the Cambium Do?

The main job of the cambium is to promote growth of secondary xylem and phloem. It's located directly between the primary xylem and phloem in a circular layer. Typically, dicot plants or gymnosperms have cambium tissue. A dicot is a plant that has two embryonic leaves at germination. Examples include the pea plant and stinging nettle. A gymnosperm is a plant that creates seeds that are naked or has ovules or female sex organs that are not protected within an ovary. Prime examples of these are pine trees or any evergreen.

Since cambium cells don't have a specific form or function when they're made, it's easy for them to extend phloem or xylem as the plant continues to grow. This is important because new growth of a plant needs nutrients that it can only get from the internal tubing system of the plant - the phloem and xylem.

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