Ever to the above ground portion of

Ever look at a plant and wonder what each specific part is? A plant has two basic plant parts: the shoot and root systems. In this lesson, you’ll learn and be able to identify each individual plant part within the shoot and root systems.

Basic Structure of a Plant

When you look at a plant, what do you see? A top, a middle, and a bottom? Those are all very general terms and do not reference a plant. Plus, there are plant structures below the ground that cannot be seen. There are two basic parts of a plant: the shoot (the structure above the ground,) and the roots (the structure below the ground). However, within each of these basic plant parts are specific parts that need to be identified.

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What Makes Up a Shoot?

The shoot is the above ground portion of the plant. In the shoot system, one will find the stem, leaves, flowers, and fruit. The stem is the sturdy stalk that grows from the roots and sprouts leaves and flowers. The stem provides structure to the plant and carries all of the needed nutrients to the plant through stem structures called the xylem and phloem.

The leaves are attached to the stem by the leafstalk, called the petiole. The leaves regulate temperature and create energy for the plant. Where leaves attach is called a node. The space between each leaf is called an inter-node. Each leaf has veins on it which help to transport nutrients. The top of the plant is called the terminal bud or apical bud; think of this as the tallest green part.

Plants are protected by an epidermis. This is similar to the human epidermis and provides a protective layer of cells to prevent infection from microbes or insects and prevent chemicals from entering into the xylem or phloem of the plant and causing it to die. This structure is very important to the plant, as it ensures that the plant reaches maturity and produce seeds.A flower is a plant part needed to attract pollinators and produce fruit. The flower has petals that are protected by sepals.

The petals protect the sexual organs of a flower: the pistil and stamen. The pistil is the female part of the flower (made up of the style, stigma, ovary, and ovules), and the stamen is the male part (made up of the filaments, anthers, and pollen).When pollen from the stamen reaches the ovary of the pistil, fruit is formed. The fruit comes from a flower and in many cases can be consumed. Inside the fruit are seeds, which can be replanted to create more plants.

What Makes Up a Root?

Roots are the below ground part of a plant that cannot be seen.

Roots are required for structure and anchoring the plant in the soil. The roots also transport water and nutrients to the above ground portion of the plant. The bundle of roots that is associated with a plant is called the rhizome. Within the rhizome are two main root types, the taproot and lateral roots. A taproot is the central, thickest root that grows straight down.

The lateral roots grow off of the taproot and do not grow as deep. There are very fine root hairs that grow off of lateral roots and taproots. These structures are important for increasing the roots’ surface area to be able to mine nutrients from the soil. Root hairs are continually shedding cells and elongating, and the root cap protects the root apex at the end of a root.

Lesson Summary

A plant is made up of two basic parts, the shoot and root systems. Within each system you will find more complex anatomy. On the shoot system, the stem, leaves, flowers, and fruit can be seen. On the root system, the taproot and lateral roots can be seen. The roots anchor the plant into the ground and transport water and nutrients up to the shoot system, where structures in the stem continue to distribute the nutrients.

The leaves collect sunlight and make food for the plant through photosynthesis, and reproduction occurs in the shoot system in the flowers, which are made of the pistil (female part) and the stamen (male part).


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