Plant Structures

and Function
In Different Environments
 Plants
have various structures that help them to
survive in different environments.
 In
this presentation, we will look at the adaptations
in the structures of plants, including roots, stems,
and leaves of plants in different environments.
 We
will compare the structure and function of plant
parts from the following environments: desert,
wetlands, forest, and tundra.
Desert- A Definition
desert is a region that receives an
extremely low amount of
precipitation (rain or snow), less than
enough to support growth of most
Plants lose a lot of moisture through
a process called transpiration. (Sort
of like a person losing water through
 Deserts
can be hot or cold.
Wetlands- A Definition
wetland is an area
between a land-based and
a water-based ecosystem.
 Wetlands
include bogs,
fens, marshes, and swamps.
 Although
there are many
different types of wetlands,
they have three physical
characteristics in common.
Wetlands- A Definition
 Water – Wetlands are covered with shallow
water for at least some time during the year.
 Soil – The soil often has little or no oxygen.
 Plants – Wetlands provide habitat for “water-
loving” aquatic plants (hydrophytes). These
plants are adapted to living in saturated
(really full of water) soil all or part of the year.
Tundra- A Definition
 The
word "tundra" usually
refers only to the areas
where the subsoil is frozen
all the time (permafrost).
 The
plants in this
environment include
shrubs, sedges, grasses,
mosses, and lichens.
Forest- A Definition
 A forest, or woods, has many trees.
 There will usually be an upper tree
layer (canopy) and the understory.
 Other plants, such as shrubs, vines,
flowers, and mosses, are found in
 Forests can include
rainforests, boreal
forests, and conifer
 The
four major functions of
roots are:
Absorption of water and
nutrients (food)
Anchoring the plant to the
Storage of food and
To prevent soil erosion
 Buttress
roots are large
roots on all sides of a tree
with a wide base or a tree
with shallow roots.
Roots: Dry Environment
 Some
desert plants
have long taproots
that go all the way
to the water table, if
 Some
desert plants
have adapted to
the weather by
having widespreading roots, to
absorb water from a
greater area of the
Roots: Wetland Environment
 Emergent
– Rooted in
soil, but plant parts
extend above the
Submergent – The
entire plant lives
Roots: Wetland Environment
 Floating
– Leaves
float on the surface,
while roots hang
down into the water
or are planted in the
 Riparian
– Found
along the edges of
wetlands or other
water bodies
Roots: Tundra Environment
 There
are no deep root systems in the plants
(vegetation) of the arctic tundra.
 Many
plants have rootlets (rhizoids) instead
of roots.
stem is the part of the plant that usually grows
above the ground and holds the leaves.
 The
stem has four main functions:
Supports and elevates the plant, leaves, flowers, and
Transports fluids between the roots and the shoots
Stores nutrients
Produces new living tissue
Some plants have thorns
on their stems for
Some plants have stems
that wrap around other
plants or structures. This
provides a way to support
the plant as it grows.
The stems of many desert
plants feel “waxy”. Some
desert plants store water
in their leaves, roots, and
The stems of tundra
plants are often very
short. Plants grow close to
the ground in this
environment. Tundra
plants do not have
woody stems.
 The
stems of many
aquatic plants are
 Flexible
stems move
easily in water currents.
 The
shape and structure
of leaves varies
considerably from plant
to plant.
 The
main purpose of
leaves is to produce food
 Another
purpose of a leaf
is to get carbon dioxide
from the air (atmosphere)
to make sugar and
release oxygen.
Leaves: Dry Environment
 Desert
plants often
have small, spiny
 They
are designed to
reduce water loss in
the plant.
Leaves: Temperate Environment
 Some
trees have broad
leaves that absorb water
and sunlight.
 Some
trees have
“needles” for leaves. The
needles’ shape and waxy
coating help the plant
conserve water during the
cold winter and in hot
Leaves: Tundra Environment
 Tundra
plants have very
tiny leaves.
 There are usually many
leaves on one stem.
 Sometimes the leaves
appear to be “wooly”.
Leaves: Wetland Environment
 Leaves
are usually
round and flat or
long and thin.
 The flat leaves float
on the surface.
 The thin leaves
move easily when
water flows.
Special Structures…
 Carnivorous
plants have
adapted to living in the lownutrient areas of wetlands
(bogs and fens) in a special
 They
have structures that allow
the plant to trap and digest
insects. The insects provide
the necessary nutrients that
they cannot obtain from the
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