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3.3: Stems

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    The shoot system of a plant consists of stems and leaves (Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\)). Stems may range in length from a few millimeters to hundreds of meters, and also vary in diameter, depending on the plant type. Stems are usually aboveground, although the modified stems of some plants, such as the potato, also grow underground. Stems may be herbaceous (soft) or woody in nature. A stem may be unbranched, like that of a palm tree, or it may be highly branched, like that of a magnolia tree.

    Straight, cylindrical bamboo stems with narrow leaves
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): The shoot system of bamboo plants. Image by RanaAnees (CC-BY-SA).

    The stem of the plant functions in support, conduction, photosynthesis, and storage. Stems support leaves, flowers, and buds. They connect the roots to the leaves, helping to transport absorbed water and minerals to different parts of the plant. It also helps to transport the products of photosynthesis, namely sugars, from the leaves to the rest of the plant. Stems also store food for the plant, mainly in the form of starch.


    Curated and authored by Melissa Ha using the following sources:

    Thumbnail image: Cross section of the woody stem of Aristolochia. Image by Berkshire Community College Bioscience Image Library (public domain).

    This page titled 3.3: Stems is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Melissa Ha, Maria Morrow, & Kammy Algiers (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .