Stem Structures

Materials winter twig, fresh stem with leaves, hand lens or dissecting microscope

Stems have a more complex structure than roots, yet they are similar in many ways. Did you know that a sign nailed 2 m (about 7 ft) high on a tree will remain 2 m high, even though the tree may grow much taller? That is because most stems, like roots, grow in length only at their tips, where apical meristems produce new primary tissues. Stems, like roots, grow in circumference through lateral meristems.

Stems have several features that roots lack, as Figure 29-9 shows. Each leaf is attached to the stem at a location called a node. The spaces between nodes are called internodes. At the point of attachment of each leaf, the stem bears a lateral bud. A bud is capable of developing into a new shoot system (the above-ground part of a plant, consisting of stems and leaves). A bud contains an apical meristem and is enclosed by specialized leaves called bud scales. The tip of each stem usually has a terminal bud.


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