Plants have a basic structure made up of six parts that work together to help the plant function. Almost all plants have these six parts: roots, stems, leaves, fruit, flowers and seeds. Understanding how each of these parts interact increases the understabnding of how plants live.
Roots help anchor a plant into the ground, rock or wherever it is growing. Roots also absorb water and minerals that help the plant grow. They have small hairs that extend from the main roots and help with absorption. A plant's roots store carbohydrates and sugars the plant may need in the future. Some plants, such as carrots or potatoes, have taproot systems. Others, like grasses and flowers, have fibrous root systems.
Plant stems are attached to roots and carry water and nutrients to the rest of the plant. Cells in the stem that carry water are called xylem cells, while those that carry food are called the phloem cells. Stems also provide support for a plant, allowing it to stand upright. Some stems, such as those of flowers, can be soft and bendable. Others, such as tree trunks, are woody and strong.
Leaves are important to a plant because that's where the food is made in a process called photosynthesis. The leaves capture sunlight and use light, water, chlorophyll and carbon dioxide to make glucose, or sugar. The waxy coating on the outside of leaves is called a cuticle and is made to protect the leaf.
Flowers are the reproductive units of most plants and create seeds. The female part of a flower is called the pistil, which is made up of the stigma, style and ovary. The male part is called the stamen and is made up of the anther and filament. In most flowers, the stamen surrounds the pistil. Fertilization happens when pollen lands on the stigma and a tube grows down the style to the ovary, creating an ovule. Male cells join the ovule and fertilize it, creating a seed. Flowers are bright and attractive to bring birds, bees and insects, which help with fertilization when they transfer pollen from one flower to another.
Apples and oranges come to mind when most people think of fruit, but a flowers fruits are ripened ovules, containing seeds. Some plant fruits are edible, such as tomatoes, cucumbers or pumpkins. The fruits develop a fleshy or hard exterior, to protect the developing seeds inside.
Seeds are plant embryos. Seeds are contained within the plant's fruit while they germinate. They have an endosperm, which is formed at fertilization and is a short-term food supply for the seed to use while it grows. Animals, wind or water can move the seeds to another place and under the right conditions, the seed will form another plant.