Xylem Structure


Xylem Structure

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Xylem is one of the two types of transport tissue in vascular plantsphloem being the other. The basic function of xylem is to transport water from roots to stems and leaves, but it also transports nutrients.[1][2] The word "xylem" is derived from the Greek word ξύλον (xylon), meaning "wood"; the best-known xylem tissue is wood, though it is found throughout a plant.[3] The term was introduced by Carl Nägeli in 1858.[4][5]


The most distinctive xylem cells are the long tracheary elements that transport water. Tracheids and vessel elements are distinguished by their shape; vessel elements are shorter, and are connected together into long tubes that are called vessels.[6]

Xylem also contains two other cell types: parenchyma and fibers.[7]

Xylem can be found:

in vascular bundles, present in non-woody plants and non-woody parts of woody plants

in secondary xylem, laid down by a meristem called the vascular cambium in woody plants

as part of a stelar arrangement not divided into bundles, as in many ferns.

In transitional stages of plants with secondary growth, the first two categories are not mutually exclusive, although usually a vascular bundle will contain primary xylem only.

The branching pattern exhibited by xylem follows Murray's law.

Primary xylem is formed during primary growth from procambium. It includes protoxylem and metaxylem. Metaxylem develops after the protoxylem but before secondary xylem. Metaxylem has wider vessels and tracheids than protoxylem.

Secondary xylem is formed during secondary growth from vascular cambium. Although secondary xylem is also found in members of the gymnosperm groups Gnetophyta and Ginkgophyta and to a lesser extent in members of the Cycadophyta, the two main groups in which secondary xylem can be found are:

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