Growing towards the sun!

By Abigail Read

This blogpost looks at different flowering plant and tree components and what they do, focussing on the different parts of the plant and how they are involved in plants growing.  We also look at an experiment to to see how plants grow and take a look through the eyes of a bee!

Flowering Plants…not just pretty to look at!

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Parts of a flowering plant. Image: science made simple (CC-BY-NC)

Leaves

Leaves are typically flat organs of the plant found above the ground. They are designed to carry out photosynthesis, meaning that they collect sunlight and carbon dioxide from the air and water from the roots and turn it into sugars. These sugars are then turned in to starch in the leaves for food for the plants to help them to grow and repair.

Stem

The stem acts as a support for the leaves and petals. It also transports (carries) water from the roots to the leaves and starches and sugars from the leaves to the section of the plant that need it e.g. petals or other leaves.

Roots

Roots are mostly found underground but can be seen on the surface, or in-between rocks too if plants are in a rock bed. The roots will spread outwards as well as downwards to find a water supply. This water is then absorbed through to roots and carried to the stem.

Forget-me-nots seen with visible and UV light (Photo: davidkennardphotography.com CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Forget-me-nots seen with visible and UV light (Photo: davidkennardphotography.com CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Sepal

Sepals are adapted leaves found under the petals when the petals are in full bloom. The sepals protect the petals when in bud (closed), and they are usually green.

Anther

These hold pollen, allowing the plant to reproduce.

Style

Reproductive part of the plant that support the stigma, which collect pollen from another plant.

Petals

Petals are adapted leaves which surround the reproductive organs of the plant. The shape and colour are designed by nature to attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies and birds.  This picture (right) shows how flowers look to us and to bees, which see the reflected ultraviolet (UV) light.

 

Trees….from the ground up!

Roots

Absorb water and minerals from the soil and transport it up to the trunk of the tree. Roots in trees can spread over large distances to find good water supplies as they will compete for water with neighbouring plants.

Trunk

Hard wooded structure similar to the stem structure in smaller plants. It carries (transports) water, sugars and minerals to where they are needed e.g damaged parts of the bark or broken leaves. Trunks of trees are stronger and harder than plant stems as they need to support there larger size and are more exposed to wind and large animals.

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Parts of a tree. Image: science made simple (CC-BY-NC)

Bark

Outer shell of trunk which protects the tree from extreme changes in weather and temperature. It can also protect the tree from birds, insects and other animals that may try to nest in or eat it.

Crown

The crown is every part of the tree that can be found above the ground.

Branches

Branches are smaller wooden support structures for leaves.

Leaves

As for flowering plant leaves, these are a flat organ of a tree which is specialised in photosynthesis. Leaves increase the surface area of the tree, increasing the area exposed to sunlight to maximise the amount of photosynthesis which can take place.

Canopy

In a forest, the crowns of many trees may be so close that they form a canopy.  The canopy provides a continuous environment for birds, insects and mammals to move through the forest. Most of the photosynthesis which happens in the forest goes on in the canopy, because the leaves in the canopy have most access to light and shade plants below.

How does water move in a plant? Try it yourself!

This experiment takes a day or two to complete but is very simple and you can check up on it as often as you like.

You will need

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Setting up your experiment. Image: science made simple (CC-BY-NC)

Some sticks of celery with the leaves still on

A glass of water

Red or blue food colouring

What to do

1. Put a few drops of your chosen food colouring into the glass of water and mix it around.

2. Place your celery sticks in the coloured water and leave for a day or two.

3. Has the water been moved around the plant?  Where has it moved from?  Where has it moved to?

Curriculum Links

Key stage 1

– Identify and describe the basic structure of a variety of common flowering plants, including trees

Key stage 2

– Identify and describe the functions of different parts of flowering plants: roots, stem/trunk, leaves and flowers

– investigate the way in which water is transported within plants

 

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Posted in Activity, Biology, Primary