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Roots and Stems. Mr. Chapman Biology 20. Plants are Weird. Unlike animals and other living organisms, plants can grow for their entire lives. A plant will continue to grow in the direction that allows it to reach resources. For roots, this means growing downward. What is a Root?.

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roots and stems

Roots and Stems

Mr. Chapman

Biology 20

plants are weird
Plants are Weird

Unlike animals and other living organisms, plants can grow for their entire lives. A plant will continue to grow in the direction that allows it to reach resources. For roots, this means growing downward.

what is a root
What is a Root?
  • You are familiar with roots, they are (as we know them) the stringy, fibrous things that hang from the bottom of a plant. Roots, though, come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
why are roots useful
Why Are Roots Useful?
  • Roots have several important functions, and these include:
  • Anchoring the plant to the ground
  • Absorbing water, minerals, and other nutrients for the plant.
  • Transporting and storing nutrients for the plant.
  • Roots sometimes make up over half the body of a plant.
a root is composed of the following structures
A Root is Composed of the Following Structures....
  • Vascular cylinder – composed of xylem and phloem tissues. The vascular cylinder is surrounded by ground tissue, which itself is covered by dermal tissue.
  • Apical meristem – meristem cells are not specialized, similar to parenchyma cells. However, when they divide they have the ability to become specialized. Apical meristem lengthens the tips of roots and stems.
  • Root cap – the root cap covers the bottom of the root, protecting it as it grows downward into the soil.
root structure
Root Structure

Root hairs should be mentioned here!

types of roots
Types of Roots
  • There are 2 main types of roots that we discuss in this class:
  • Fibrous roots: These are the roots that we are the most familiar with, and they form extensive networks underground with fine branches. Most of the roots are the same size.
  • Taproots: These are long, thick, vertical roots with smaller root branches coming off of them. Carrots are examples of taproots that you can eat.
types of roots1
Types of Roots

Why would a plant ever want to have a taproot instead of a fibrous root, are there any advantages?

  • Stems are seemingly the most boring portion of a plant. Nothing seems particularly interesting about the stem, so we just won’t talk about it...
just kidding
Just Kidding!
  • Stems are obviously well known for providing support to the plant, but they also have other functions:
  • Food storage
  • Contain the majority of the vascular system
  • Can store food and water
  • In some plants, like green cacti, the stems can photosynthesize, producing food for the plant.
herbaceous or woody
Herbaceous or Woody?
  • Some stems are herbaceous stems, which means that they contain little or no wood. These plants are usually soft and do not contain very many rigid xylem cells.
  • These plants do not ever grow to be more than 2 meters tall. Can you think of why?
  • Herbaceous stems are often green and may conduct photosynthesis.
herbaceous or woody1
Herbaceous or Woody?
  • Stems can also be woody. Usually the stems that have wood are dicots, such as pines and fir trees. Tree trunks are woody stems.
  • Recall the difference between monocots and dicots in terms of vascular tissue...
stem growth
Stem Growth
  • Unlike other living organisms, plants are capable of growth as long as they are alive. In order to continue to grow, a plant must be able to obtain enough nutrients to do so.
  • Plant growth depends on the location of the meristem within the plant. Recall that the meristem is the non-specialized type of cell capable of division and specializiation.
tree rings
Tree Rings
  • Tree rings form due to uneven growth during the seasons. In years where the tree grew more, there is a larger gap between the tree rings.
  • Obviously, when the tree grew less, the rings are smaller. Tree rings can provide valuable meteorological data from the past, can you explain how?