Biology » Plant Form and Physiology » The Plant Body

Summarizing the Plant Body


A vascular plant consists of two organ systems: the shoot system and the root system. The shoot system includes the aboveground vegetative portions (stems and leaves) and reproductive parts (flowers and fruits). The root system supports the plant and is usually underground. A plant is composed of two main types of tissue: meristematic tissue and permanent tissue. Meristematic tissue consists of actively dividing cells found in root and shoot tips.

As growth occurs, meristematic tissue differentiates into permanent tissue, which is categorized as either simple or complex. Simple tissues are made up of similar cell types; examples include dermal tissue and ground tissue. Dermal tissue provides the outer covering of the plant. Ground tissue is responsible for photosynthesis; it also supports vascular tissue and may store water and sugars. Complex tissues are made up of different cell types. Vascular tissue, for example, is made up of xylem and phloem cells.


apical meristem

meristematic tissue located at the tips of stems and roots; enables a plant to extend in length

dermal tissue

protective plant tissue covering the outermost part of the plant; controls gas exchange

ground tissue

plant tissue involved in photosynthesis; provides support, and stores water and sugars

intercalary meristem

meristematic tissue located at nodes and the bases of leaf blades; found only in monocots

lateral meristem

meristematic tissue that enables a plant to increase in thickness or girth

meristematic tissue

tissue containing cells that constantly divide; contributes to plant growth


plant region of continuous growth

permanent tissue

plant tissue composed of cells that are no longer actively dividing

root system

belowground portion of the plant that supports the plant and absorbs water and minerals

shoot system

aboveground portion of the plant; consists of non-reproductive plant parts, such as leaves and stems, and reproductive parts, such as flowers and fruits

vascular bundle

strands of stem tissue made up of xylem and phloem

vascular stele

strands of root tissue made up of xylem and phloem

vascular tissue

tissue made up of xylem and phloem that transports food and water throughout the plant

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