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Cambium Tissue: Definition, Features & Examples

Instructor: Jeremy Battista
Plants have many different cells than animals. One of these different types of cells is the cambium tissue, an area of cells that can branch out to become many different things. Let's take a look at cambium tissue.

What Is Cambium Tissue?

Look around you. Chances are that you can see a potted plant in your office, or maybe one growing in the ground outside your window. What makes those plants able to live and shuttle nutrients around? In humans, we have specialized veins and vessels to move blood. Plants have a xylem and a phloem, and some create newer, secondary versions of these. In order to make those versions, they need cambium tissue.

All living things have different and specialized cells to complete whatever task the living organism needs. Plants have a tissue called cambium tissue. This tissue is not specialized, and is thus essentially a blank slate. This is comparable to the human stem cell, which is blank and can become anything. Cambium tissue works in a similar fashion.

Here is a black and white picture showing the location of the cambium tissue in plants, in this case a tree.
Cambium tissue

One can find the cambium tissue cells in the area between the xylem and phloem of the plant. Recall that the xylem is responsible mainly for the movement of water up from the roots, whereas the phloem is responsible for carrying most of the nutrients throughout the plant. It is between these structures where we see the cambium tissue. This tissue helps create new stems and roots. It also helps to create a secondary xylem and a secondary phloem. You can see how important this tissue group really is.

Three Types of Cambium Tissue

We can break our cambium tissue down into three distinct types: cork, unifacial, and vascular. Depending on the particular species of plant, each of the following cambium tissues may or may not be present.

Cork cambium is meristematic tissue, or tissue from which the plant grows. Cork cambium helps replace and repair the epidermis of roots in the plant, as well as helping to form the bark of a tree. Since it's only found where there is secondary growth, cork cambium occurs in dicots (plants with two cotyledons, or seed storage spaces) and gymnosperms (seed-producing plants like trees), but normally not in monocots (singular seed storage) since they lack secondary growth. We see this in the woody type plants, such as trees. Cork cambium is, as the name suggests, a 'cork-like' material. It is used in wine corks, flooring, fishing rods, etc.

Unifacial cambium also appears and grows in the middle of the plant. This is the type of cambium tissue that becomes a xylem, but not the phloem. These plants do not exhibit secondary growth, so plants that have unifacial cambium do not grow much taller than 50 meters. This is why we see unifacial cambium in smaller, less complex plants. Example of this type of tissue would be in lycophytes, which include simple plants like mosses and worts.

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