Structure of a Plant


The study of plants is an ongoing science that examines the environment, the health benefits of certain plants, and cell structure. The structure of a plant is extremely complex but answers many questions in the world of science. Through cell formation, genetic development and adaptation, we can learn what our world has gone through, how plants affect us, and their impact on our environment.

Root System

The root system of the plant supplies nutrients for growth, fruit production and seed formation. Roots act as an absorbing sponge designed to gather minerals and vitamins from the moisture in the soil. A plant that is root-bound suffers because the roots are pressed together in a mass and cannot gather as many nutrients as when they are spread out in a proper manner.

Shoot System

Anything above the root is the shoot system. Generally, this is the stem or stalk of the plant and includes the leaves, flowers and fruits. The shoot system is responsible for photosynthesis and reproduction.


The reproductive organs of the plant are located in the flowers. The stamen is the male reproductive part, and produces the plant's pollen. The pistil is the female reproductive part. There pistil has three parts, each with its own job to do during the growing season. The pollen gets deposited onto the stigma (part one) located on the style (part two). It then travels down the style to the ovary (part three). The ovary produces the seed and helps it mature so at the end of the season, the seed is ready to start growing a new plant.


The fruit helps to spread the growth of the plant. Birds and animals eat the fruit and later expel the seed in their waste. Because the animal has usually traveled some distance from the source by this time, the plant now has another area in which it can grow. Thus it expands its natural habitat.


An entire ecosystem is stored in a single seed. There is enough food in the casing to provide nourishment for the plant during its evolution from seed to mature, fruit-producing plant. This food is called endosperm. Seeds either have a soft shell for easy germination or a hard shell to protect the plant during unpleasant growing conditions. For instance, some seeds need to be soaked before planting to help with germination. These plants are used to going through rain fall and cold weather, waiting for warmer temperatures before sprouting.


Herbaceous plants have soft stems that die back in the winter. Certain ones (perennials) sprout new growth in the spring from the underground root system. This would include plants like hostas, daisies, and some herbs. Others die out completely (annuals) and must be replanted each year. Vegetable plants and marigolds are considered herbaceous annuals.


Perennials such as azalea and forsythia grow each year from established stems that grow stronger and thicker each year. The leaves and blooms may die back and fall off but the stems remain throughout the year. Some woody plants must be pruned each year to control growth. Other types grow slowly so pruning becomes a personal choice for the gardener.

Keywords: plant structure, parts of a plant, plant sections

About this Author

Julie Richards is a freelance writer from Ohio. She has been writing poetry and short stories for over 30 years, and published a variety of e-books and articles on gardening, small business and farming. She is currently enrolled at Kent State University completing her bachelor's degree in English.