The Parts of a Plant

People who enjoy gardening often find themselves searching for information about the plants they wish to grow or for solutions to problems with their plants. Unfortunately, many books and magazines--and even some websites--tend to use botanical terminology without explaining it in plain English. A simple, down-to-earth explanation of the parts of plants will go a long way toward making the incredibly diverse plant kingdom a bit more comprehensible.


The roots are the part of the plant that anchor it to the ground or other surface. They absorb water from the soil and sometimes store food. They can have the same structure as above-ground stems. On the tip of the root is the root cap which protects the root as it pushes through the soil and also provides new cells for growth. Sometimes roots will have small little roots called root hairs which also absorb water from the soil.


The stems are the part of the plant that transport food and water back and forth from the roots to the leaves. They serve as support for the leaves and flowers. There are usually buds for future growth on the stems and bud scars from previous growth. Within the stem, the outer layer can form bark which transports food from the leaves down; the wood, or xylem, which carries moisture and minerals up; and the cambium, which forms new cells and divides the two layers.


The leaves are the site for food production in a plant. Within the leaves, there are the petiole--the leaf stem and the blade. In the blade there are the veins, the midrib, and the margins or edge of the blade. The leaf houses the guard cells on the surface; the stomates, which allow the plant to breathe and give off moisture; the chloroplasts, which hold the chlorophyll; and together these cells carry on photosynthesis.


The flowers are the reproductive part of the plant. They are made up of petals; the anthers held by stamens, the male reproductive part that holds the pollen; and the pistil, the female part of the plant that has three parts--the stigma, which is the sticky top part, the style, which is the connecting tube and the ovary, which is the site of egg cell development.

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Keywords: plant structure, roots, leaves

About this Author

Based in Maryland, Heidi Braley, currently writes for local and online media outlets. Some of Braley's articles from the last 10 years are in the "Oley Newsletter," "Connections Magazine," GardenGuides and Braley's college life included Penn State University and Villanova University with her passions centered in nutrition and botany.