• In vascular plants, stems are the organs that hold plants upright so they can get the sunlight and air they need.
  • Stems also bear leaves, flowers, cones, and secondary stems.
  • These structures grow at points called nodes.
  • At each node, there is a bud of meristem tissue that can divide and specialize to form a particular structure.
  • Figure below shows examples of stem specialization.
  • With specialized stems, plants can exploit a diversity of niches in virtually all terrestrial ecosystems.
  • The number of rings in this cross-section of tree trunk show how many years the tree lived.
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