The Essential Characteristics Of Plants – CCSE 4 Botany Study Material

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The Essential Characteristics Of Plants – CCSE 4 Botany Study Material

Characteristics Of Plants

The Essential Characteristics Of Plants

The following is intended as a very concise summary of the characteristics of plants that distinguish them from animals and other organisms.  It is provided as a guide to students, instructors, and the botanically curious who want to grasp the big picture of plant life.  “Plant Life: a Brief History,” expands on these themes in an evolutionary context, exploring how and why plants are the way they are.

Plants are photosynthetic.  Plants are primarily oxygenic photoautotrophs, i.e. they conduct photosynthesis in which oxygen is released as a byproduct.  They share this fundamental metabolism with cyanobacteria, various organisms referred to as algae, and even a few animals.  Photosynthesis in plants and algae occurs in chloroplasts, which are descendants of cyanobacteria captured through primary endosymbiosis.

Plants are multicellular, primarily terrestrial organisms descended from green algae.  The formal Plant Kingdom (clade Embryophyta) is descended from the green algal group Charophyta, and consists of complex, multicellular, mostly terrestrial plants in which early embryonic growth is protected and nurtured in special chambers on the parent plant.

Plant growth is indeterminate and adapted to gather diffuse resources.  The resources required for photosynthetic life, including light, carbon dioxide, water, minerals, tend to be distributed diffusely, requiring broad, antenna-like systems, above and below ground, to gather those resources.  The diverse forms of plant architecture reflect different strategies for optimizing those resource gathering systems.   Most plants have no fixed size or shape, though some have a well-defined lifespan.  They expand indefinitely, adding new photosynthetic and absorptive organs throughout their life.

Shoots consist of simple repeated units exhibiting serial homology.   shoot is a young section of stem with leaves or other derived organs produced serially through growth at its tip.  Leaves are usually determinate structures of fixed size, shape, and lifespan, and are attached at points along the stem called nodes.  Nodes may be separated by sections of stem called internodes.   An axillary bud, from which a branch shoot may arise, is situated in the axil (basal angle) of each leaf.   Leaves may be modified into bracts, tendrils, spines, or floral organs through modification of a common fundamental development plan (i.e. these structures areserially homologous).

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