Plant Growth

Plant growth originates mainly in meristems (MER-i-STEMZ), regions where cells continuously divide. Look at Table 29-2. Most plants grow in length through apical (AP-i-kuhl) meristems located at the tips of stems and roots. Some monocots grow in length through intercalary (in-TUHR-kah-ler-ee) meristems located above the bases of leaves and stems. Intercalary meristems allow grass leaves to quickly regrow after being grazed or mowed.

Gymnosperms and most dicots also have lateral meristems, which allow stems and roots to increase in diameter. Lateral meristems are located near the outside of stems and roots. There are two types of lateral meristems. The vascular cambium, located between the xylem and phloem, produces additional vascular tissues. The cork cambium, located outside the phloem, produces cork. Cork cells replace the epidermis in woody stems and roots. Cork cells are dead cells that provide protection and prevent water loss.

You have probably noticed that trees grow taller and wider over time. Growth in length is called primary growth and is produced by apical and intercalary meristems. Growth in diameter is called secondary growth and is produced by the lateral meristems.

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