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The Four Main Parts of a Plant

A plant is made up of several important parts. Flowering plants, the most common type
of plants, have four main parts: roots, stems, leaves, and flowers. The roots, stems, and leaves are
called the vegetative parts of a plant. The flowers, fruits, and seeds are know as the reproductive
Most roots grow underground. As the roots of a young plant spread, they absorb the
water and minerals that the plant needs to grow. The roots also anchor the plant in the soil. In
addition, the roots of some plants store food for the rest of the plant to use. Plants with storagetype roots include beets, carrots, radishes, and sweet potatoes.
Stems of plants differ greatly among various species. They make up the largest parts of
some kinds of plants. For example, the trunk, branches, and twigs of trees are all stems. Other
plants, such as cabbage and lettuce, have such short stems and large leaves that they appear to
have no stems at all. The stems of still other plants, including potatoes, grow partly underground.
Leaves make most of the food that plants need to live and grow. They produce food by a
process called photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, chlorophyll in the leaves absorbs light energy
from the sun. This energy is used to combine water and minerals from the soil with carbon
dioxide from the air. The food formed by this process is used for growth and repair, or it is stored
in special areas in the stems or roots.
Flowers contain the reproductive parts of flowering plants. Flowers develop from buds
along the stem of a plant. Some kinds of plants produce only one flower, but others grow many
large clusters of flowers. Other plants such as dandelions and daisies have many tiny flowers that
form a single, flower-like head.
Seeds vary greatly in size and shape. Some seeds, such as those of the tobacco plant, are
so small that more than 2,500 may grow in a pod less than 19 millimeters long. On the other
hand, the seeds of one kind of coconut tree may weigh more than 20 pounds. The size of a seed
has nothing to do with the size of the plant. For example, huge redwood trees grow from seeds
that measure only 1.6 millimeters long.
There are two main types of seeds, naked and enclosed. All cone-bearing plants have
naked or uncovered seeds. Cone-bearing plants can be purchased from The seeds of these plants develop on the upper side of the scales
that form their cones. All flowering plants have seeds enclosed by an ovary. The ovary develops
into a fruit as the seeds mature. The ovaries of such plants as apples, berries, and grapes develop
into a fleshy fruit. In other plants, including beans and peas, the ovaries form a dry fruit. Still

other plants have aggregate fruits. Each tiny section of a aggregate fruit, such as a raspberry,
develops from a separate ovary and has its own seed.