Why It Matters: Plant Structure and Function

Why discuss the structure and function of plants?

We use plant-derived products every day in our lives, from paper to clothing to food. The different structures and components of plants allow them to form these different items we use.

The roots, stems, and leaves of plants are also structured to ensure that a plant can obtain the required sunlight, water, soil nutrients, and oxygen resources. Plants have developed some remarkable adaptations to thrive in less than ideal habitats, where one or more of these resources is in short supply.

In tropical rainforests, light is often scarce, since many trees and plants grow close together and block much of the sunlight from reaching the forest floor. Some plants have special adaptations that help them to survive in nutrient-poor environments. Many swamp plants have adaptations that enable them to thrive in wet areas, where their submerged roots have low access to oxygen. What type of adaptations do you think would help plants in these conditions?

Learning Outcomes

  • Identify basic common structures of plants
  • Describe how water and solutes are transported in plants
  • Identify common sensory systems and responses in plants
  • Identify the key elements and processes in plant growth
  • Discuss the common nutritional needs of plants