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The 9 Parts of a Plant (With Pictures)

It is estimated that there are nearly 400k species of vascular plants on Earth. From the tiniest grasses to the tallest trees, plants influence and shape environments for fungi, animals, and even other plants. Most have a similar organizational structure with a few changes for size and environment.

Have you ever wondered about the different parts of plants? Continue reading to learn about nine parts of a flowering plant.

We chose to look at flowering plants because they’re found in all major biomes and environments. Your basic houseplant and exotic orchids share the same flowering plant template.

In this article, we’ll examine a flowering plant from root to leaf, including flowers, nodes, stems, and fruit.

The 9 Parts of a Plant

Shoots System 

1. Terminal Bud

Terminal bud
Terminal bud | image by Stephanie Harvey via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

A terminal bud is located at the very top of the plant. A bud is where new leaves and flowers form. You’ll find the youngest, most tender leaves and flowers here.

This is different than a regular bud because it represents negative space that the where the plant is growing into. Its growth increases the height and size of the plant. It is a harbinger for the direction the plant grows in and the plants eventual shape.

The terminal bud can develop into two different kinds of plant tissue: flowers or green growing matter.

2. Flower

Black eyed susan flowers
Black eyed susan flowers | image by John Wisniewski via Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Flowering plants reproduce by way of flowers. Flowers get pollinated via a variety of different methods. Seeds then mature and are spread in dry or wet fruit.

One of the easiest ways to identify a plant is to classify it based on its flower. Flowers come in thousands of shapes, sizes, and colors. They smell differently, have a variety of textures, and can last for weeks or just hours.

Many flowers we see on today’s plants are a result of evolutionary forces. Some are colors only certain insects are attracted to.

Others are shaped for the bills and tongues of hummingbirds or bats. They are extremely well adapted to their environment.

3. Fruit

fruits by Couleur from Pixabay

Like flowers, the shape and flavor of fruits are a result of natural selection. The juicier and tastier a fruit was, the more likely an animal would eat it and disperse the seeds. Over time, more animals ate and excreted tastier fruits, making more of them grow.

A clear example of this is humans breeding plants for their fruit. Instead of random selection, humans intentionally cross-pollinated plant varieties to find bigger, tastier fruit. Tomatoes, corn, and strawberries have all become larger and sweeter thanks to human-guided breeding programs.

4. Stem

Green plant stems
Green plant stems

Stems are crucial parts of plants. Depending on the type of plant, stems can be either woody (having bark or a hard outer layer) or herbaceous (not woody). They serve two functions:

  • They physically support the leaves, smaller stems, flowers, fruits, and buds.
  • They transport nutrients and water up and down between the roots and leaves.

Woody stems have different names depending on their ages. A tree’s main stem is called a trunk, and smaller woody stems are branches and twigs.

Herbaceous stems don’t grow bark or cork. Instead, they remain soft throughout their lifetime. Grasses are clear examples of plants that don’t grow bark.

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5. Leaf

Cordate leaves
Cordate leaves

Leaves are the most recognizable feature of plants. They exist in thousands of shapes, sizes, and colors. No two are the same, even on the same plant.

The same plant can even be host to multiple leaf shapes. There are several ways to identify leaf types. They’re easy to use when you’re identifying a type of plant.

  • by shape (linear, ovate, cordate, lanceolate)
  • by their number (single leaf, pinnate leaf, compound)
  • by how many veins they have (parallel, reticulated)
  • by the blade’s edge/margin (serrate, lobed, toothed)

Leaves use the process of photosynthesis to capture energy from the sun and convert it into sugar. This process is the foundation of all life on earth. Photosynthesis requires chlorophyll, the chemical compound that gives leaves their green color.

6. Bud

Tulip buds
Tulip buds | Image by Anelka from Pixabay

Buds are special locations on a plant where growth is guaranteed to occur. Buds are specialized into two types: ones that produce flowers, and ones that produce shoots.

Flower buds are part of the plant’s reproductive process. Thanks to pollination, the plant is able to grow fruit and seeds. They contain the parts of a flower that will slowly bloom over time.

The rate of blooming depends on what kind of plant and what time of year. Flowers in the summer usually bloom and die faster than those in the spring or fall.

Vegetative buds are the growth point for new stems, leaves, and runners. They describe the origin point of any growth that doesn’t involve flowers. Unlike flower buds, which usually occur at the ends of branches or in specific clusters, vegetative buds occur in more places, including from the main stem itself.

7. Node

Tomato plant on pot
Tomato plant on pot | image by tom_bullock via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

A node is the generative part of the plant that gives rise to buds and all growth. Nodes are special areas on the plant where there is a junction between two plant parts.

Nodes also serve as links in the plant’s vascular system. This system propels nutrients up and down in the stem. This juncture can be between stems and leaves, stems and roots, or segments of the same stem.

Nodes are common at the junction of leaf and stem. At this point, the plant creates a small bulge called a leaf trace. Here, the plant exchanges the glucose made from photosynthesis with water and minerals from the root system.

Root System 

8. Primary Root

Carrots in the garden
Carrots in the garden

The primary root is the main root that the plant first grows as a seedling. This root usually extends directly downward into the soil. Other roots branch out from this main root.

In plants with taproot root systems, the primary root is the taproot. There are plenty of variations on the attributes of different kinds of plants.

A great example of a taproot-dominant plant is a carrot. Carrots have been selectively bred over generations to store vitamins and minerals in the fleshy taproot. They have just a few secondary roots.

9. Secondary Root

Maize roots
Maize roots

Secondary roots are the types of roots which extend outward from the main trunk of the primary root. These roots prevent the plant from moving around in the soil laterally. They stabilize it against wind and rain.

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The Lateral roots can extend out horizontally at a variety of angles. Most of them grow outwards at an angle of about 100 degrees relative to the primary root.

Many grasses and fruiting vegetables and plants have fibrous root systems. These systems allow them to spread at a shallow level over a wide area. They’re able to take advantage of rainfall more quickly than plants with other root systems.

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About Anna Lad

Anna is a wildlife biologist who graduated from Texas A&M in 2020. She enjoys studying and learning about wild birds and wildlife of all types.