Plant Stem: Function, Types & Parts

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  • 0:00 External Parts of a Stem
  • 0:40 Highway System of a Plant
  • 1:17 Vascular System of a Plant
  • 3:14 Arrangement of the…
  • 3:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Nappi
Have you ever wondered how a plant stays upright without falling over? In this lesson you will learn the different parts of a plant stem. In addition, you will learn the function of the plant stem. Test your knowledge at the end with a quiz.

External Parts of a Stem

Just like the human body, plants have body parts, too. This lesson will focus on one complex body part of a plant, the stem. The stem is an above-ground part of a plant that provides structural support and connects the root system to the leaves. Stems vary in size, ranging from a small vine to the 30 foot diameter of a tree!

External parts of a plant stem

The area of the stem where leaves begin to grow is called a node. The stalk of the leaf that connects to the node is called the petiole. The area of the stem between nodes is called the internode. Now that we've explored the outside parts of a stem, let's examine the inside of a stem.

Highway System of a Plant

Did you know that the inside of a plant stem is like a highway? Imagine a highway where trucks are transporting food and water to different areas of the city. Before entering the highway, the trucks first have to stock their trailers with supplies from a local warehouse. The loaded trucks then travel to the highway and eventually reach their destination, a grocery store.

A plant stem is just like a highway where food and water is transported to different areas of the plant. The roots are like a warehouse where water is located. This water then is transported via the highway system to its final destination, the plant leaf.

Vascular System of a Plant

Let's take a closer look at this highway system inside of a plant stem. The highway system in a plant is actually called the vascular system. The vascular system is defined as a network of tubes where water and nutrients are transported throughout the plant. The vascular system acts like a transportation system connecting the roots, stem, and leaves.

Not all plants have a vascular system. For example, mosses and algae do not. These plants are called nonvascular plants. Water and nutrients move through these simple plants by diffusion. Only vascular plants have vascular systems. Vascular plants include flowering plants, cone-bearing plants, and ferns.

Everyone knows plants manufacture food from the sun, but how do leaves transport food to the rest of the plant? This movement of food and water is performed by the vascular system. The vascular system is comprised of two main tissues, the phloem and xylem.

The phloem is a network of tubes in the stem that transport food to the rest of the plant. Have you ever witnessed sap oozing from a tree? You are actually witnessing sticky phloem contents leaking out. When you eat syrup, you are eating the sugary contents transported in the phloem. A way to remember the phloem transports food throughout the plant is to think of the beginning sound of phloem, which sounds like the f in food.

Sap oozes out of a tree

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