<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the main function and basic structure of stems
  • Compare and contrast the roles of dermal tissue, vascular tissue, and ground tissue
  • Distinguish between primary growth and secondary growth in stems
  • Summarize the origin of annual rings
  • List and describe examples of modified stems

Stems are a part of the shoot system of a plant. They may range in length from a few millimeters to hundreds of meters, and also vary in diameter, depending on the plant type. Stems are usually above ground, although the stems of some plants, such as the potato, also grow underground. Stems may be herbaceous (soft) or woody in nature. Their main function is to provide support to the plant, holding leaves, flowers and buds; in some cases, stems also store food for the plant. A stem may be unbranched, like that of a palm tree, or it may be highly branched, like that of a magnolia tree. The stem of the plant connects the roots to the leaves, helping to transport absorbed water and minerals to different parts of the plant. It also helps to transport the products of photosynthesis, namely sugars, from the leaves to the rest of the plant.

Plant stems, whether above or below ground, are characterized by the presence of nodes and internodes ( [link] ). Nodes are points of attachment for leaves, aerial roots, and flowers. The stem region between two nodes is called an internode    . The stalk that extends from the stem to the base of the leaf is the petiole. An axillary bud    is usually found in the axil—the area between the base of a leaf and the stem—where it can give rise to a branch or a flower. The apex (tip) of the shoot contains the apical meristem within the apical bud    .

 Photo shows a stem. Leaves are attached to petioles, which are small branches that radiate out from the stem. The petioles join the branch at junctions called nodes. The nodes are separated by a length of stem called the internode. Above the petioles, small leaves bud out from the node.
Leaves are attached to the plant stem at areas called nodes. An internode is the stem region between two nodes. The petiole is the stalk connecting the leaf to the stem. The leaves just above the nodes arose from axillary buds.

Stem anatomy

The stem and other plant organs arise from the ground tissue, and are primarily made up of simple tissues formed from three types of cells: parenchyma, collenchyma, and sclerenchyma cells.

Parenchyma cells are the most common plant cells ( [link] ). They are found in the stem, the root, the inside of the leaf, and the pulp of the fruit. Parenchyma cells are responsible for metabolic functions, such as photosynthesis, and they help repair and heal wounds. Some parenchyma cells also store starch.

Micrograph shows a stem about 1.2 millimeters across. The central pith layer is about 800 microns across. Pith cells stain greenish-blue and are about 50 to 100 microns in diameter in the middle, and smaller toward the outside. Surrounding the pith is a ring of xylem cells about 75 microns across and four cells deep. Xylem cells, which are about 15 microns across, radiate out from the center in rows. Rows of green-staining phloem cells radiate out from the xylem cells.  Phloem cells are about half the size of xylem cells. Outside the phloem is a ring of cells that make up the peripheral cortex. Cells in the peripheral cortex are rounded rectangles that lie perpendicular to the phloem. The outermost epidermis is made up of cells similar in shape to the peripheral cortex cells but a bit larger. On opposite faces of the stem the peripheral cortex bulges outward, forming buds about 150 microns across.
The stem of common St John's Wort ( Hypericum perforatum ) is shown in cross section in this light micrograph. The central pith (greenish-blue, in the center) and peripheral cortex (narrow zone 3–5 cells thick just inside the epidermis) are composed of parenchyma cells. Vascular tissue composed of xylem (red) and phloem tissue (green, between the xylem and cortex) surrounds the pith. (credit: Rolf-Dieter Mueller)

Collenchyma cells are elongated cells with unevenly thickened walls ( [link] ). They provide structural support, mainly to the stem and leaves. These cells are alive at maturity and are usually found below the epidermis. The “strings” of a celery stalk are an example of collenchyma cells.

Questions & Answers

what did Darwin say about evolution
Hope Reply
effect of planning beans of using fertilizer
Elizerbeth Reply
what do we mean by transgenic organisms?
what is or are the functions of the Islets of Langarhaans
They are the regions of the pancreas that contains the endocrine cell
is the studly of life
Aisha Reply
what is biology
Asunta Reply
is the study of living organism and their interection with one another and their environment.
what is soil
Mukisa Reply
the top layer of the earth in which plant's, tree's
type of soil
function of cell wall
Nthati Reply
function of cell wall
To protect the cell from bursting
to protect the cell from bursting
to protect all other internal components of the cell
What is escherichia coli
Tumise Reply
in what type of cells is meiosis taking place?
Rhyeann Reply
sex cells
reproductive system of earthworm plzz describes
procryotic cell and some eucaryotic cell
applications of biology
Namawejje Reply
what is dormancy?
Aliyu Reply
hello guys what's the difference between prokaryotes and eukaryotes
Nwachukwu Reply
hlo what are the applications of biology?
eukaryotic cells have DNA in their nucleus while prokaryotic cells have their DNA present freely in their cytoplasm.
deviation from mendelian
Ogali Reply
what is lethal allele
a lethal allele is an allele that can cause poor development or even death of an organism
Explain how chemical , bioligical and physical interaction between themselves and the non living components ?
Beyan Reply
what is Tissues
Faith Reply
Group of similar cells performing some related functions We have some type of tissues Connective Muscle Epithelial Nervous tissues
group of cells that is called tissue.
tissue is the arrangement or combination of similar cells that perform the same function .
what is tissue
what are structure of the cell
wana Reply

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?