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Different Groups of Plants
By Ekaterina Zhdanova-Redman
1 Scientists believe that there are more than 300,000 species of plants. The variety of plants on our planet is amazing. Giant sequoia trees are plants just as strawberries or tiny mosses are. Plantae is the scientific name for the plant kingdom. It consists of many different divisions and groups of plants. Scientists group plants according to their common characteristics.
2 Scientists group plants by their similar parts, for example, plants' roots. Just think of the huge roots of some trees. Sometimes they can grow through the pavement on walkways. Compare that to the roots of beets or yard grass. They do look very different, don't they?
3 There are two major kinds of root systems. The root system that looks like one major root - like the one the beet plant has - is called a taproot. A taproot grows down and forms many small secondary roots. Plants with taproot systems use their roots to store food. You can see these plants and roots in many gardens and grocery stores - carrots, beets, radishes, and turnips. Some trees also have taproot systems. Some trees have taproots as long as six meters (about twenty feet)!
4 Fibrous roots make up the second major kind of root system. They are made up of large numbers of roots that are more or less equal in size. Instead of growing deep down, they usually spread over large areas. Most grasses and some trees, like maple and beech trees, have fibrous root systems.
5 Even though the roots are different, their functions are the same â€” to anchor and support the plant, and to absorb, transport, and store water and nutrients. The tissues that roots are made of are the same, too. The outside covering of a root is called the epidermis (ep-i-dur-mis). The epidermis directly contacts the soil and absorbs water and nutrients. The tissues inside the roots are called xylem (zi-lem) and phloem (flo-em). They are tube-like tissues through which water and nutrients move. Xylem helps to move water and nutrients from the roots to the stems and leaves. Phloem conducts food made in the leaves to all other parts of a plant that need them. Xylem and phloem are separate inside the plant, and they are continuous from the roots through the stem and into the leaves.
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