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Epicotyl: Definition & Function

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Instructor: Jeremy Battista

Jeremy has a master of science degree in education.

To grow, plants depend on the epicotyl, the section of a seed that pushes through the soil. Explore the definition and function of the epicotyl. Learn about its formation and importance to understand its role in a plant's growth process. Updated: 11/02/2021

What Is The Epicotyl?

The epicotyl is a part of a seedling, the point along the embryonic shoot (the stem from which everything grows) just above the cotyledons (the seed leaves) that ends with the plumule (the growth that becomes the first true leaves). Epicotyls are found in angiosperms (or flowering plants). The epicotyl is responsible for breaking the surface of the soil in hypogeal germination. Let's take a closer look at the epicotyl:

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  • 0:00 What is The Epicotyl?
  • 0:28 Formation of the Epicotyl
  • 1:06 Importance of the Epicotyl
  • 1:48 Lesson Summary
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In hypogeal germination, the epicotyl pushes through the soil.
Epicotyl

Formation of the Epicotyl

As you can guess, the epicotyl is a plant part that is important in the beginning stages of a plant's life. Once fertilization occurs and the seed begins developing, an embryo forms inside of the seed. Outside of the embryo, the seed itself is beginning to stockpile massive quantities of nutrients in order to allow the seed to germinate (sprout and grow into a plant). As the embryo progressively grows, we see the cotyledons form along the embryonic shoot. Below the cotyledons is an area known as the hypocotyl. And the part that is above the cotyledons is what we call the epicotyl.

Importance Of The Epicotyl

The epicotyl is a rather simple part, but in certain plants, it plays a specific, rather important role. In hypogeal germination, the epicotyl is directly responsible for growing in order to punch through the surface of the ground. This then allows the epicotyl to grow straight up, elongating the shoot. The cotyledons are stuck in the ground, where they continue to provide nutrients to the young plant before eventually dying.

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