<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
Photo shows rough, white ovals embedded in a smooth, reddish brown woody tree trunk. Where the ovals are, it appears as if the bark has been scraped away.
Lenticels on the bark of this cherry tree enable the woody stem to exchange gases with the surrounding atmosphere. (credit: Roger Griffith)

Annual rings

The activity of the vascular cambium gives rise to annual growth rings. During the spring growing season, cells of the secondary xylem have a large internal diameter and their primary cell walls are not extensively thickened. This is known as early wood, or spring wood. During the fall season, the secondary xylem develops thickened cell walls, forming late wood, or autumn wood, which is denser than early wood. This alternation of early and late wood is due largely to a seasonal decrease in the number of vessel elements and a seasonal increase in the number of tracheids. It results in the formation of an annual ring, which can be seen as a circular ring in the cross section of the stem ( [link] ). An examination of the number of annual rings and their nature (such as their size and cell wall thickness) can reveal the age of the tree and the prevailing climatic conditions during each season.

 Photo shows a cross section of a large tree trunk with many rings projecting outward from the center.
The rate of wood growth increases in summer and decreases in winter, producing a characteristic ring for each year of growth. Seasonal changes in weather patterns can also affect the growth rate—note how the rings vary in thickness. (credit: Adrian Pingstone)

Stem modifications

Some plant species have modified stems that are especially suited to a particular habitat and environment ( [link] ). A rhizome    is a modified stem that grows horizontally underground and has nodes and internodes. Vertical shoots may arise from the buds on the rhizome of some plants, such as ginger and ferns. Corms are similar to rhizomes, except they are more rounded and fleshy (such as in gladiolus). Corms contain stored food that enables some plants to survive the winter. Stolons are stems that run almost parallel to the ground, or just below the surface, and can give rise to new plants at the nodes. Runners are a type of stolon that runs above the ground and produces new clone plants at nodes at varying intervals: strawberries are an example. Tubers are modified stems that may store starch, as seen in the potato ( Solanum sp.). Tubers arise as swollen ends of stolons, and contain many adventitious or unusual buds (familiar to us as the “eyes” on potatoes). A bulb    , which functions as an underground storage unit, is a modification of a stem that has the appearance of enlarged fleshy leaves emerging from the stem or surrounding the base of the stem, as seen in the iris.

 Photos show six types modified stems: (a) Lumpy white ginger rhizomes are connected together. A green shoot projects from one end. (b) The carrion flower corm is conical-shaped, with white roots spreading from the bottom of the cone, just above the dirt. (c) Two grass plants are connected by a thick, brown stem. (d) Strawberry plants are connected together by a red runner. (e) The part of the potato plant that humans consume is a tuber. (f) The part of the onion plant that humans consume is a bulb.
Stem modifications enable plants to thrive in a variety of environments. Shown are (a) ginger ( Zingiber officinale ) rhizomes, (b) a carrion flower ( Amorphophallus titanum ) corm (c) Rhodes grass ( Chloris gayana ) stolons, (d) strawberry ( Fragaria ananassa ) runners, (e) potato ( Solanum tuberosum ) tubers, and (f) red onion ( Allium ) bulbs. (credit a: modification of work by Maja Dumat; credit c: modification of work by Harry Rose; credit d: modification of work by Rebecca Siegel; credit e: modification of work by Scott Bauer, USDA ARS; credit f: modification of work by Stephen Ausmus, USDA ARS)

Watch botanist Wendy Hodgson, of Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, explain how agave plants were cultivated for food hundreds of years ago in the Arizona desert in this video: Finding the Roots of an Ancient Crop.

Some aerial modifications of stems are tendrils and thorns ( [link] ). Tendrils are slender, twining strands that enable a plant (like a vine or pumpkin) to seek support by climbing on other surfaces. Thorns are modified branches appearing as sharp outgrowths that protect the plant; common examples include roses, Osage orange and devil’s walking stick.

 Photo shows (a) a plant clinging to a stick by wormlike tendrils and (b) two large, red thorns on a red stem.
Found in southeastern United States, (a) buckwheat vine ( Brunnichia ovata ) is a weedy plant that climbs with the aid of tendrils. This one is shown climbing up a wooden stake. (b) Thorns are modified branches. (credit a: modification of work by Christopher Meloche, USDA ARS; credit b: modification of work by “macrophile”/Flickr)

Section summary

The stem of a plant bears the leaves, flowers, and fruits. Stems are characterized by the presence of nodes (the points of attachment for leaves or branches) and internodes (regions between nodes).

Plant organs are made up of simple and complex tissues. The stem has three tissue systems: dermal, vascular, and ground tissue. Dermal tissue is the outer covering of the plant. It contains epidermal cells, stomata, guard cells, and trichomes. Vascular tissue is made up of xylem and phloem tissues and conducts water, minerals, and photosynthetic products. Ground tissue is responsible for photosynthesis and support and is composed of parenchyma, collenchyma, and sclerenchyma cells.

Primary growth occurs at the tips of roots and shoots, causing an increase in length. Woody plants may also exhibit secondary growth, or increase in thickness. In woody plants, especially trees, annual rings may form as growth slows at the end of each season. Some plant species have modified stems that help to store food, propagate new plants, or discourage predators. Rhizomes, corms, stolons, runners, tubers, bulbs, tendrils, and thorns are examples of modified stems.

Art connections

[link] Which layers of the stem are made of parenchyma cells?

  1. cortex and pith
  2. epidermis
  3. sclerenchyma
  4. epidermis and cortex.

[link] A and B. The cortex, pith, and epidermis are made of parenchyma cells.

Got questions? Get instant answers now!

Questions & Answers

what are runners
Godfrey Reply
what is an environment
Bwambale Reply
diagrams are not indicated, why?
Simon Reply
diagrams for what?
Everine
A vaccination is a treatment which makes the body stronger against an infection. The body fights infections using the immune system, which is made up of millions upon millions of cells including T cells and B cells.
Nworie
define the term immunity
Everine
can simply defined as an exemption from an attack
Nworie
difference between cell and cell membrane
Sunday Reply
cell is a basic unit of living body however cell membrane is a protective layer of cell.
Suhail
very good
Everine
which topic would you like to discuss today?
Everine
vaccine
Nworie
what do you understand by the term vaccine?
Everine
guy I need the answer of this question what occurs during photosynthesis
REAL Reply
Photosynthesis is the process that plants use to convert light into food. During this process, plants create carbohydrates starting with only carbon dioxide and water. Sunlight provides the energy that makes photosynthesis possible.
Stanley
@Stanley,that's how I could as well put it
Evans
what are different between genotype and phenotype
Martha Reply
what is light microscope and electronic microscope
Martha
what occurs during photosynthesis
Martha
what are importance of biology
Martha
what is the meaning of computer science
Martha
what is ecology
Adeyemo Reply
what is zoology
Adeyemo
zoology branch of biology that study animals
Moses
a branch of biology which deals with the study of animals
Anita
A plant is a living thing that grows in the earth and has a stem, leaves, and roots
Bello Reply
what is a plant
dalitso Reply
A plant is a living thing that grows in the earth and has a stem, leaves, and roots
Bello
a plant is an is a living thing that is classified under autothrops because it makes its own food through the process of photosynthesis .
Joanne
a plant is also known as autotropic category and a plant have root & stem
Anita
what is plant
Odion Reply
Plants are autotrophic
Baramox
Then animal are heterotrophic
Iyiola
what are organisms
Godfred Reply
Living structures
Aryavarta
living and non living which charectrised by different properties
Anita
organisms living and nonliving components of the environment with distinct xtics
Tony
the diagram below show how the blood of a human embryo flows close to the mothers blood in the placenta . which substances are represent at x in higher concentrations than at y
Joyce Reply
what is ecology
Odion Reply
what is cell
Odion
what is cell
Odion
Is the basic unit of life
Agatha
what's biology
Okebe
biology is the study of life
Ali
I want to know more about biology
Okebe
What are enzymes?
Zanga
if you want to know more, please start studying biology from the beginning systematically
Best
enzymes are biological catalyst that speed up d rate biochemical reactions
Ning
What is a cell
Awal Reply
What are tissues
Awal
A cell is the smallest unit of living organisms.
hamidat
Tissues are group of similar cells performing a particular function.
hamidat
how to pronounce the word cyanobacteria
siva Reply
Cyano then bacteria. look that "cyano" is just like "ciyano".
hamidat

Get the best Biology course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Biology' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask