Glossary of Terms Related to Plant Anatomy


Stands for adenosine triphosphate and acts as the main energy storage and transfer molecule in the cell. ATP is produced in chloroplasts and the cristae of the mitochondria and is then metabolized by enzymes and different cellular processes.


Organelle found in some plant cells that helps store and synthesize starch. When a plant is in need of energy, amyloplasts can also convert its starch back into sugar for food. Many amyloplasts can be found in starchy plants like potato tubers.

Cell membrane

A slim layer of fat and protein that surrounds a cell though still located inside the cell wall. It is semi-permeable, which means it allows for some substances to pass through it while keeping others out.

Cell wall

A tough, rigid layer that surrounds a plant cell. The cell wall is located outside of the cell membrane and acts to support, filter incoming substances, and protect the cell from over-expansion due to water intake. Cell walls can also attach to other cell walls to help form the structure of a plant.


A small organelle located close to the nucleus that acts as the main microtubule organizing center (MTOC) of the cell (it is where microtubules are produced).


A green molecule vital for photosynthesis. Chlorophyll captures light energy from the sun in order to convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and sugar for plant consumption.


Disc-shaped organelle containing chlorophyll and the location where photosynthesis occurs.


Tissue composed of cells with unevenly thickened walls.


One of the first leaves of the embryo of a seed plant; seed leaf.


The folded membranes inside the mitochondria. The walls of the cristae contain proteins and are the site where cell energy production occurs (ATP is produced).


A gooey substance that contains all the cell's organelles outside of the nucleus. Most cellular activity occurs within the cytoplasm.


Flowering plants that have two seed leaves that emerge after germination.

Endoplasmic reticulum (ER)

A system of membranes forming tubular compartments that permeate the cytoplasm. ER can be smooth or rough, and coated with ribosomes.


Cells that contain a nucleus and other membrane-bound organelles.

Golgi bodies

Organelles found near the nucleus in most eukaryotic cells that help to process and package proteins and carbohydrates into vesicles that are processed out of the cell.


Rod to spherical-shaped organelles which contain a double membrane. The mitochondria's function is to convert glucose into ATP in order to power the cell.


Flowering plants that have one seed leaf that emerges after germination.


An organelle contained within the nucleus where ribosomal RNA is formed.


The brain of the cell. It controls many of its functions (through protein synthesis) and contains the DNA (in the form of chromosomes).

Nuclear envelope

Double membrane enclosing the nucleus of a cell.


A membrane-bound body in the cytoplasm of a cell.


Thin-walled cells, varying in shape, size, and function.


A process where plants convert water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight into energy, water, and oxygen. Chlorophyll is crucial for photosynthesis to occur.


The site where communication and transport of materials between plant cells occurs.


An organelle with a double membrane in the cytoplasm of many eukaryotes. It may be concerned with photosynthesis (chloroplast), contain yellow or orange pigment (chromoplast), or contain starch (amyloplast).


The food-conducting tissue of a vascular plant.


Cells that lack organelles and a nucleus.


The young root as it emerges from the seed, normally the first organ to appear on germination.


Tiny organelles that are made up of RNA-rich cytoplasmic granules in which protein synthesis occurs.


A type of schlerenchyma, made up of gritty cells, often called "stone cells." Sclereids are what make a pear slightly gritty.


Tissue composed of thick-walled cells containing lignin for strength and support.

Sieve element

Cell in the phloem tissue concerned with longitudinal conduction of food materials. In flowering plants, it is called a sieve-tube element.

Sieve tube

A series of sieve-tube elements arranged end to end and interconnected through sieve plates.


Dense fluid found between grana (stacks of thylakoid disks) of a plant cell's chloroplast. Stroma is where carbohydrate forming reactions occur during photosynthesis.


Disk-shaped [membrane-bound] compartment within chloroplasts that contain the chlorophyll. Thylakoids are the site for photosynthesis.


Membrane-lined area within a plant cell that is filled with water. This organelle takes up much of the space inside a cell and help maintains its shape and size.


An organism (as an insect) that transmits a pathogen or an agent (as a virus) that contains or carries modified genetic material which can be replicated inside a host organism


A tube-like series of vessel elements with open ends. The walls that join the members have perforations or holes in them to allow water to pass through freely.

Vessel element

Individual cells that make up vessels.


The water-conducting tissue of a vascular plant. Minerals are also transported through the xylem.