Let’s take a closer look at the parts of a plant. Plants usually have three main parts: roots, stems, and leaves. Let’s go part by part and learn more about how they help the plant grow and survive! Once you’ve learned all the parts, click the button below to download our Design Your Own Plant handout!
Roots are often underground and take up water and nutrients from the soil. They help anchor the plant and keep it upright.
Can you think of any plant roots that you like to eat?
A crunchy, tasty orange carrot is the root of the carrot plant! It’s called a taproot, and has adapted to store lots of nutrients for the rest of the plant.
Stems are like the superhighway of the plant: they transport water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves. They also provide support and structure to keep the plant strong, and flexibility so the plant can bend in the wind without breaking. The place where a leaf or branch attaches to a stem is called a node. The part of the stem between leaves and branches is called an internode.
Can you think of any plant stems you like to eat?
Tubers such as potatoes are actually modified stems that grow underground! They store nutrients for the rest of the plant.
While the roots are busy drinking up water and nutrients from the soil, the leaves are busy photosynthesizing. Photosynthesis is when plants use sunlight as energy to turn water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and sugars. The plants “breathe in” carbon dioxide and “breathe out” oxygen (thank you, plants!). They use the sugar as fuel for growing and making fruits, seeds, and flowers.
The part of the leaf that attaches to the stem is called a petiole. The thin, flat part of the leaf is called the blade. The lines running out from the center of the leaf are called the veins. They carry water and nutrients to the leaves, and provide structure. Many leaves have a vein going down the center called a midrib.
Can you think of any leaves you like to eat?
Salad greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale are all leaves! But did you know that an onion is a modified leaf? Just like a carrot (root) and potato (stem), it has adapted to store nutrients.
Not all plants have flowers! For plants that do, the primary purpose of the flower is to produce seeds, from which new plants will grow. To make a seed, the plant has to be pollinated. Bugs, birds, other animals, wind, and even people can transfer pollen between flowers. Some flowers can self-pollinate! Fruit develops from the flower around the seed, offering protection and a way to spread the seeds: when animals eat the fruit, they poop out the seeds somewhere else!
Can you think of any flowers you like to eat?
Many flowers, such as chamomile, are used in tea. Squash blossoms can be fried for a delicious snack.
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