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A plant is a member of the kingdom Plantae, a living organism that utilizes photosynthesis, a process in which energy from sunlight is converted to chemical energy (food). Plants are at the base of the food web and are autotrophs (or producers - organisms that make their own food). Plants vary greatly in size, shape, and the type of environment in which they live.
Structure and Function: Roots anchor the plant in the ground and absorb water and mineral nutrients from the ground. Leaves contain chloroplasts, in which photosynthesis occurs. Carbon dioxide is absorbed through pores in the leaves; oxygen is produced as a byproduct of photosynthesis and is released. Plant cells have a supportive cellulose cell wall (unlike animal cells which lack cellulose).
The following is a diagram of the external anatomy of a typical flowering plant:
axil - the angle between the upper side of the stem and a leaf, branch, or petiole.
axillary bud - a bud that develops in the axil.
flower - the reproductive unit of angiosperms.
flower stalk - the structure that supports the flower.
internode - the area of the stem between any two adjacent nodes.
lateral shoot (branch) - an offshoot of the stem of a plant.
leaf - an outgrowth of a plant that grows from a node in the stem. Most leaves are flat and contain chloroplasts; their main function is to convert energy from sunlight into chemical energy (food) through photosynthesis.
node - the part of the stem of a plant from which a leaf, branch, or aerial root grows; each plant has many nodes. Label the two lower nodes (the first and second nodes) on the plant diagram.
petiole - a leaf stalk; it attaches the leaf to the plant.
root - a root is a plant structure that obtains food and water from the soil, stores energy, and provides support for the plant. Most roots grow underground.
root cap - a structure at the ends (tips) of the roots. It covers and protects the apical meristem (the actively growing region) of the root.
stem - (also called the axis) is the main support of the plant.
tap root - the main root of some plants; the tap root extends straight down under the plant.
terminal bud - a bud located at the apex (tip) of the stem. Terminal buds have special tissue, called apical meristem, consisting of cells that can divide indefinitely.
Phyla: The phyla in the kingdom Plantae include: Ginkgophyta, Lycophyta (lower ferns like club mosses), Pterophyta (ferns), Psilophyta (whisk ferns), Anthophyta (flowering plants), Gnetophyta, Sphenophyta, Coniferophyta (conifers), Cycadophyta (cycads), Sphenophyta, and Bryophyta (mosses, liverworts, hornworts).
Botany and Paleobotany Dictionary
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